Book Review: Lunch Wars (Which Isn’t About Mealtime At My House, BTW)

Lunch WarsReading Lunch Wars by Amy Kalafa gave me the strength to say this: I hate school lunches.

There. I said it. I feel better.

Except that I don’t feel better. Not really.

The most recent menu that my oldest son brought home from his elementary school is somewhat appalling. I’m thankful for two things: 1) That our family is financially secure enough that we can send BigBrother to school with a packed lunch every day, and 2) That peer pressure hasn’t yet stepped in and caused him to want to buy his lunch. (Also, with his texture issues and food aversions he has informed me that he has absolutely no desire to eat any of what he has seen thus far. Not even the school pizza. Whew.)

But being able to avoid the problem doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist. We’re fortunate… and not every family is as fortunate as we are. I know that, and it makes me sad that we — as a society, not just my local and surrounding school districts — don’t seem to care more about the nutrition our kids are getting in our schools. I feel ill-equipped to fight this fight myself as I’m fighting issues on other fronts, but I do appreciate the sentiment and challenges brought forth by those who do have the time to take this issue head on.

Read an excerpt from Lunch Wars at the BlogHer Book Club right now. This is probably my favorite point in general (and makes me feel better about what we’re doing at home as well!).

[Myth] Kids need choices so they can learn to make good choices. Offering children unhealthy foods and drinks at school contradicts what they are taught about good nutrition and sends a mixed message. Why shouldn’t all the choices be good choices? We don’t ask kids if they’d rather have recess or math! Limiting choices, especially in the younger grades, helps kids develop a taste for good food, and good eating habits. When kids choose soda, candy, and junk food instead of eating a meal, they don’t get the nourishment they need to learn properly.

And feel free to join in the discussions even if you haven’t read the book. Talk about your school lunches, your kids’ school lunches and other important topics.


[Disclosure: This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.]

 

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10 Replies to “Book Review: Lunch Wars (Which Isn’t About Mealtime At My House, BTW)”

  1. Soda? Candy? in school cafeterias (and available at lunch time)? I mean, I know our lunches in school growing up weren’t the best for ya, but I think the worst things they served were pizza & chocolate milk. Pop machines were off limits & only to be used during sporting events. Candy was occasionally sold by different groups as fundraisers, but NEVER by the cafeteria as an option for lunch.

    I have to say, I’d be pretty ticked if I were paying for school lunches, and found out they were providing her with soda, candy, & junk. Pretty. Ticked.

  2. Sym is the pickiest kid on the planet and has no desire to be on the school lunch program. She hasn’t even brought home one of the menus in years! From what I remember from when she did bring them home they weren’t THAT bad, but I think programs like school lunches are different here. I wouldn’t have minding her being on it, just because I hate making her lunches in the morning, but luckily she’s old enough to do it herself now. This morning she packed herself a peanut butter sandwich, goldfish crackers, carrot sticks, one cookie and a bottle of water. Not bad!

  3. I have a friend who works in a school cafeteria and told me two spamming facts just yesterday. First, two scoops of nacho cheese sauce count as a protein. Second, though all products are required to gave nutritional labels, government meats and “meat products” often come in plain white boxes with just the product name.

    Elena didn’t start asking for school lunches until half way through first grade and does everyday now. There is just no way with her dietary restrictions that I will ever let her eat a school lunch. We are also very grateful we can afford to send lunches with our kids. What makes me so frustrated is that often the children who need subsidized lunches are also the children who desperately need high quality nutritious food. My dad was a minister in a very small town and they started a weekend children’s program that included lunch, because there were so many in their community that had no food on the weekends. I’ve also heard of programs that send backpacks of food home with children for the weekend.

    This is actually one of my hot-button issues. It should be intolerable to all Americans for any citizen to go hungry, especially our children. Quality food is a gift we can afford to give. Thanks for the heads up on this book.

  4. We had the kids buy lunch for most of a few years while I worked and went to school full-time. In fact most of last year they did because it was so much cheaper. It’s great when they stick to the lunches, but our oldest in high school started just getting pretzels and a pop because the lunch line was too long.

    In elementary and middle school she was great about getting salads. But there are so many more kids at the high school, I can see her point.

    My son on the other hand, he’ll live on whatever junk he can grab and I know all kids are the same way. My daughter was a fluke adding salad every day. lol

    I pack it now because they couldn’t contain their spending habits and this way they at least get a nutritious sandwich with the other junk I put in their lunches.

  5. not a fan of school lunches here iether…Bu-ut…my 5th child was fed via a tube directly into his stomach for 4 years…you want to talk food aversions and texture issues…heh! It was a huge struggle to get him to a point where he would put food in his mouth, chew it, swallow it and not choke or aspirate it into his lungs because his left vocal cord is paralyzed. Suffice it to say that every rule I had about food and feeding his four older siblings was tossed away just to get this kid to eat and get rid of the g-tube. when he started school we fretted and worried over school lunches. His feeding therapist who worked with him at school for kindergarten and first grade made us realize that as much as it killed me to let him buy school lunches this was the way to go for him. He has autonomy. He has control. He eats what he wants depending on how hungry he is…which surprise, surprise is what I have taught his four older sisters. He has control of the food and his food choices and…even bigger surprise the kid is eating and eating fairly well at school and at home.

    1. See, this is one reason why school lunches are important (and one reason why no one can make those sweeping generalizations that school lunches don’t matter and that people should just send their kids with their lunches). Thank you for sharing your story.

      How is the choking going? BB hasn’t gagged and choked since summer, which has been a lovely stretch of time. He’s actually doing really well with trying new foods and eating right now. I am probably jinxing it by typing it aloud.

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