Help Spread the Word for National School Lunch Week

By , Master of Arts in Teaching Program at USC
In recognition of National School Lunch Week (NSLW) 2011, we’ve created an infographic about the childhood obesity epidemic.  It’s important that we help students understand where food comes from and the nutritional benefits that go along with the food they consume. During this week, the School Nutrition Association, as well as teachers, parents, community members and educators around the country will help highlight to students the benefit that school lunch can provide for kids to grow strong and healthy.

In an effort to support this year’s National School Lunch Week theme,
“School Lunch – Let’s Grow Healthy” we have created an infographic, “The
Childhood Obesity Epidemic” with statistics sharing lifestyle, nutritional,
activity-related and consequential facts relating to children. Childhood Obesity Epidemic Infographic
Brought to you by MAT@USC Masters in Teaching

Parents, do your kids buy or pack their lunch? Do you struggle to get them to eat right?

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I'm in my 50's. I remember my mother would only rarely let us take hot lunch at school. She would usually make lunches for all of us consisting of a sandwich (with lettuce), a piece of fruit and 1 small cookie. We bought the small carton of milk in the cafeteria to drink with it.

I went to Catholic grade school and they usually had some kind of "protein" often hidden in some kind of casserole, and fish sticks or macaroni and cheese on Fridays , a canned vegetable and some kind of dessert (although sometimes things like cherry pie filling qualified as dessert).

The nuns patrolled the lunch room and made sure you didn't throw out too much food, and made you go back to the tables to finish eating if you had too much on your plate before you could leave to play outside. I remember one day during Lent they had sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Of course, wouldn't you know, this was one of the few days my mom had us eat in. As the nuns paced back and forth, I carefully planned my disposal strategy and had to time my getting up and scraping my plate while they all happened to be furthest away from the food garbage buckets. Made a beeline for the buckets, and the sauerkraut was history!! Report
I understand about the lunches, but in the community I live it was hit hard by the tough times we are trying to get out of, and we have alot of children that are homeless, some even living in the woods around the area, so they eat the lunches (free lunch program) and for some of them it may be the only meal they get that day.
I know that the lunches are not the healthiest anymore, but looking back I don't recall them being any healthier when I was in school, we had the pizzas, and the milkshakes, and the sandwiches, and chips and I am 53 years old, so that was when I was in middle and high school, I think the only difference is we did not have soda, our only choice of beverage was a pint of milk, and white milk only.
So look back to when you went to school, were the lunches really any different.
I think alot of it is also the children today don't get activity, schools don't have physical education anymore, and the children are sitting in front of gaming systems and alot of it starts at home. Report
I am disgusted by some of the school lunch offerings. Yesterday was sausage pizza, garlic bread, corn, and canned mixed fruit. Starch anyone? My son takes his lunch most days. There aren't many packable veggies he likes,so he usually loads up on fruit during lunch and veggies at dinner. He hates canned fruits, fruits in syrup, etc, so he takes fresh cut apples, grapes, pineapples, and more in his lunch. It does take more time than tossing prepared foods in his lunch box, but it is so worth it to fill him with healthy, fresh, chemical free food everyday! Report
great information!! Report
My high school had a cafeteria, prior, I lived in a small town where everyone just went home (10 minute walk), but high school, not so lucky, if I didn't like what was offered, I just walked on over to the grocery store (not even a minute walk) and bought stuff. Or walk a bit further, then there was fast food joints, had nothing to do with schools or my mom. I would sometimes forget my lunch, or didn't feel like eating it. Report
If anyone is disgusted with the school lunch program, then blame the federal government, because the formula for how schools are reimbursed is based on x number of carbohydrates per meal, serving size of fruit/veggies, protein, etc. Yes, what they serve is garbage (my husband works in food service, even he won't eat it). When he suggested a meal similar to the ones Jamie Oliver did, he was rebuffed and told they would not be reimbursed because there were too few carbs (the meal he planned had approximately three servings of carb, about 45 grams).

All it comes down to is the almighty dollar, so don't blame all food service workers. Some are trying their best to make the changes necessary to help kids get healthier meals. Report
Love this article!!

But.. to change the way kids eat, the amount they get PE, and encourage healthy options at home, it all comes down to money! Yes, healthy food doesn't have to be as expensive as processed food, but for most people, it is. Fresh fruit costs WAY more per serving than chips. And, we all know that once our taste buds get used to very sweet, and very salty, the natural stuff doesn't taste good. (no extremes of salt or sweet in fruit & veggies)

To change the physical activity level at schools, it will cost more! PE isn't 'tested' in No Child Left Behind. So, the big money is tied to other subjects. So... guess where the schools focus..? Each square foot of building costs the school boards lots. Many schools are full, and fitting in the floor space for each child to get PE daily, isn't possible any longer. (Computers cost more than PE... parents demand computer time.. but parents don't demand PE)

Remember... schools are paid for my our taxes. If you do really have a problem with this.. tell your reps in DC. And, then tell them that you would happily pay more in taxes to pay for the programs at schools that would help fix this. Report
My DD does her HS classes online but when she went to a physical school all her friends used to comment about her healthy choices (she brought lunch.) She eats lots of fruits and vegetables and is very concerned about what is in the food she eats.

What moron parents give soda to infants? Really! Report
I grew up in the days when we had Physical Education classes from grade school through high school. Remember THOSE days? In addition to making food changes in our schools wouldn't it be great to add physical activity!?! Report
Great blog! Report
It breaks this Grandmothers heart to see so many obese children in the country today. I see them every day and usually with a soda or eating something as they walk down the street. I only hope that parents will see this and change the eating habits of the children before they become obese adults. Report
I knew it was bad, but now this bad. We've got to get off our backsides and change things-not only at school-but at home as well.
I struggle to get my granddaughter to eat right. Half the time I can not even get her to sit at the table to eat. Report
Sad, but true. The last few days I have seen some very young children well on if not already on the path of obesity. The future effects will reach us all. Report
Sparktacular graphic ~ had 2 snag~2~share where I can! Thank You! Things need to change, we need more of this, More of Jamie Oliver's food revolution, and it can happen when we vote with our pocket book, speak where we can... Report
When you see it all laid out there like this presentation shows, it is very scary what these kids face! Report
Indeed!! I'm a high school teacher and am disgusted with our school lunch program, too! All they serve is what they can stick in the oven and then serve ... no effort for proper nutrition or balance. The students are filled with everything I have been taught not to eat ... white bread, instant mashed potatoes, white rice, tortilla chips with instant liquid cheese sauce, pizza at least 2 times per week, semi-chicken nuggets with lots of filler and coating, and more bread! Everything is starch, sodium and sugar!!
If the kids want vegetables, they have to specify it when getting their lunches or they won't get them at all ... and very small portions of them. Fruit? Only if it comes out of a can or added to some desert with sugar!
Yes we did have a nice salad bar, but the students were "taking too much food" (vegetables) so they then pre-measured everything and stuck them in little plastic 1 oz. containers with lids and are are allowed only 3 sides with their pre-measured lettuce. Take an extra container and it's 50 cents each. And to let them have "fresh fruit", a serving is 1/4 of an orange, 1/2 small banana, etc. Not enough to even fill a high school student's stomach. Overprice it and don't give enough ... that's how they took good food options away!
The students fought back and started bringing in food from outside for lunch, more nutritious and filling. Then they knee jerked for an instant reaction and now here is the real topper ... if the kids bring in something from outside (Subway, etc.) THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BRING IT IN THE WRAPPER OR BAG!! Really?!?? Where is that allowed in school law?
I boycotted and haven't eaten anything there for 2 years and if it isn't from home I am sure to leave it in the Subway wrappers and bag! Another friend is doing this too and we share healthy nutritious food! The students are actually jealous and I told them to do the same thing!
School lunches aren't necessarily what you want your kids to eat, either!! Check it out, parents!! They have a right to nutritious food, not pig slop!
Oh yea, the soda companies "donating" to school programs if they sell their pop and other junk? That only goes to the athletic program, not for scholastic materials! But then guess what runs the schools??!!??!! Wake up America!!!! Report
As long as the schools have a monetary incentive to provide "junk" to our kids, we shall be fighting an uphill battle. Junk food vending machines have no business being in a school any more than slot machines or pornography. Report
They are only allowed to buy 1 day a week so most of the time I know they are eating healthy. Report
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