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Friday, August 15, 2014

Mama on a Budget: Fort Thomas School Lunches Point of View

My grandparents moved to a farm in Maysville when I was quite young and every time I visited I relished that first taste of a fresh tomato or that last crisp bite of a homegrown green pepper.  My grandmother made the most amazing food using berries grown by neighbors, vegetables she harvested and canned, and breads from a local baker who grew his own wheat.  It was delicious, nutritious, and quite difficult on her to do day in and day out yet she did it; and she worked.  And she raised children and helped raise her grandchildren.  We look back on those stories from bygone days and we worship those heroes of yesteryear but we do nothing to emulate them.  We seek out convenience, speed, instant gratification in all that we do and that extends to our TV dinners and hot pocket lunches.  Our children will never know the delicious taste of a pressure cooker steamed vegetable or the feel of a fall-of-the-bone slow-roasted pork loin made with love at home.

As Fort Thomas children headed back to school this year, I could not help but be reminded of this sad lost art of fresh-food cooking.  I understand that it is not the place of our government to mandate the foods our children eat and I can understand the difficult choice Superintendent Kirschner and the Board recently made whether I agree with it or not.  What saddens me is that we as a population have gotten to the point where we allow our need for convenience and speed to dictate the foods our children eat.  It saddens me that we’ve gotten to the point where the government ever even felt the need to dictate this.  Yet we have.  Nearly 32% of American children are obese.  Meaning every third child that goes through the lines of the Fort Thomas schools is obese, statistically speaking.  Meaning, every third parent is not making appropriate food choices for their children.

I realize I am perched precariously atop a soapbox and I also realize my children eat their fair share of Pop Tarts.  We are far from perfect in the foods we eat.  But when given the choice to buy fresh or frozen, we buy fresh.  When given the choice to buy white or multi-grain, we buy multi-grain.  And when given the choice to select a chocolate candy bar or a Nutri-Grain bar for my children’s snack, we select grapes, or an apple, or the occasional salty snack recognizing that as long as we’re providing balanced options and teaching them the importance of healthy eating, we’re doing the best we can.  And that is all any of us should do- the best we can.  Not the easiest or most convenient, but the best.

It is unfortunate the government could not put together a perfect health food program with foods appealing to children to eat.  Poor tasting health foods would never sell in a cafeteria.  Equally so, though, pizza sauce and ketchup should never be considered vegetables.  What pained me the most, though, was reading the justification for the Board’s decision citing the number of apples thrown in the dumpster daily.  An apple- good enough to give to a teacher as a gift but not good enough for our kids to eat.

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