This school year has me scheduled for one site, so I get a chance to be really immersed in the school’s daily life and culture. On of my huge pet peeves is school lunch, and what can be done to make it more nutritious, flavorful. and well–fun.
The fare offered for today was a valiant attempt at expanding the students’ culinary education, but unfortunately it fell flat. My school is in an urban setting, where unfamiliar food, although it might be healthy, gets a rousing thumbs down.
The above image is a typical dish of fish tacos. But the kids at school did not have a serving that looked straight out of a glossy, foodie magazine. However, because they had no knowledge of fish that was not fried, or on a white-bread bun, they rejected it.
I questioned several of the primary graders, and most of them told me they didn’t like it because “it looks gross,” among other comments. Overwhelmingly, the fish got dumped in the trash [along with the canned mixed vegetables], and some ate the tortilla only. To top it off, the dessert of applesauce was eaten first, by a 2 to 1 margin, as well as that ever-present chocolate mile.
I see a real disconnect here somewhere………
One of the saddest tasks no teacher, [even a guest teacher] likes to see is a hungry student. Too many times I’ve had to keep a small supply of juice, healthy snacks, and fruit when a number of my kids would come to school cranky and stressed out because their stomachs had precedence over their brains.
A recent story presented on the CNN network, Students going hungry, highlights some of the woes faced when childhood hunger has such a large presence in many urban schools. This is a serious problem that has grown over the last year.
Featured is Bill Shore, founder and executive director of the national non-profit, Share our Strength. The organization produced a powerful report on hunger in the classrooms. One of the points that came up was that for every 10 teachers surveyed, 4 spent an average $25 per month out of their pockets on food.
As someone who has worked at several of schools in my city, I’ve witnessed crying, sullenness, sleeping, and aggressive behavior, usually stemming from the child not receiving enough nutrition to get them through the day. Unfortunately, school meals are often the only decent meals that kids have–but what about when they leave school in the afternoon? What about the weekends, Or when school is out for vacations? Where are those nutritious meals they need to have?
Despite the necessary push for academic excellence, it’s just as important to focus on what goes into the mouth, as well as what goes into the mind.
Although I worked every day of the school year, blog postings fell way behind, and during summer break will be several catch-up posts and reflections from the past months.
What’s got me fired up again was something that was just too insensitive to the nation’s kids. A couple of weeks ago, commentator (?) Rush Limbaugh spouted off some off-the-wall remarks that he found “humorous.”
Children need nutritious meals 365 days a year, and unfortunately for too many, summertime meals fall far below healthy and balanced levels when school is in session. Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. children are at risk of hunger, which is NO laughing matter. Organizations like Feeding America, and Share Our Strength, among others, work tirelessly to plug the hole in the hunger dike for these kids.
On a recent show last month, Limbaugh launched a tirade against hungry kids and their families, practically blaming them for the plight of food insecurity. As a guest teacher who has worked in at least a dozen elementary schools on a regular basis, school lunches do have a long way to go. But despite shortcomings, it’s better than filling up on mounds of junk food, and empty calories that many kids call “meals.”
Here’s Limbaugh’s solutions (that he claims wasn’t ment to be taken seriously!) that hit below the belt:
“We’re going to start a feature on this program: ‘Where to find food.’ …And, of course, the first will be: ‘Try your house.’ It’s a thing called the refrigerator. You probably already know about it. Try looking there. There are also things in what’s called the kitchen of your house called cupboards. And in those cupboards, most likely you’re going to find Ding-Dongs, Twinkies, Lays ridgy potato chips, all kinds of dips and maybe a can of corn that you don’t want, but it will be there. If that doesn’t work, try a Happy Meal at McDonald’s. You know where McDonald’s is. There’s the Dollar Menu at McDonald’s, and if they don’t have Chicken McNuggets, dial 911 and ask for Obama. ”
Then there’s the kicker:—–
“There’s another place if none of these options work to find food; there’s always the neighborhood dumpster.”
He then suggested that they go early, so not to be in competition with the homeless!
How cruel and offensive can one be? Does his constant deriding of the poor bring more food into their households? He’s a wealthy ($400 milliion and counting), obnoxious guy who believes poverty is a choice, like which new car, or boat to buy. Because he hides behind freedom of speech, he’s spouted off idiotic views like this daily on his broadcasts. And the sad part is, there’s a sizeable fan base that blindly agrees with him. Obviously, they’ve never been unemployed, or had to live below government poverty level.
Does he think his rantings are making people “pull themselves up by the bootstraps“? For someone who takes delight in seeing others suffers, not only has he gleefully snatched their boots, but he’s ran away with them, and thrown them in the trash……….how utterly sad.