I just wanted to let you know how happy I was to see that you will be devoting several of your articles to the healthy lunchbox issue. My kids announced to me two years ago that the school lunches just were not satisfying to them and they asked if they could start taking their own lunches to school. I am a stay at home Mom, so I do have time to get up in the a.m. to prepare and pack a nice variety of hot and cold lunches and it has worked out very well for us. It was difficult at first. I was a big fan of the old plan of writing a check to the school every month and not having to think about that one meal a day. But now it is a healthy habit and the kids are very pleased with the meals they find in their lunchboxes. They are even to the point where they expect spinach on their sandwich or as a salad at least once a week, which baffles most of their friends!
I have eaten in several school cafeterias and have come to feel strongly that the school lunch system is in need of a major overhaul. It is financially a losing business that is largely failing in it’s mission to provide healthy meals for our children. And its effect is that it takes some of the responsibility for childhood health away from the family and puts it on the government. But why should New York State be responsible for my child’s health? Shouldn’t the parents take pride in their efforts to raise children with healthy eating habits? Aren’t school-age children perfectly capable of making healthy food choices themselves by packing their own lunches? Can’t a six-year-old even take responsibility for that small task every day? Even the poorest families already get food stamps. Can’t they even afford to pack a sandwich every day? Would it really take long for kids to start learning fun new lunch ideas from each other in the cafeteria?
I feel that the school should provide a fresh salad, a piece of fruit and a carton of milk every day and require the children to bring their own main dish. This would force parents to think more about what is going into their child’s bodies every day and would still provide a sufficient nutritional alternative for those who can’t or won’t pack their own main dish. It would also encourage schools to search locally for fresh produce (an apple a day would be very easy in the North Country) and would greatly reduce the overall cost of the program by eliminating packaged foods and hot meal preparation. In the end, everyone would be healthier in so many ways.
Thank you so much for bringing public attention to the issue by hosting a continuing series on the topic.
Angela Swan, Chazy