The People Responsible for Feeding Kids Say the Darnedest Things

Today I was told by women representing the Minneapolis Public Schools nutrition department, responsible for feeding thousands of students daily, kids don’t need nutritional information from them because they are already bombarded by nutritional education.  They were explaining why they provide no nutritional information to kids when they’re conducting their taste tests of new foods in the schools.  The same group of women then continued to tell me, and the rest of my class, how cute and funny it is the kids consider Fruit Gushers, Fruit by the Foot, and Fun Dip fruits.  Everyone had a good laugh while my jaw fell to the floor.  These kids are allegedly hit with nutrition education from every direction, yet still they don’t know the difference between candy and a fruit?  Something isn’t adding up here.
It was one of the few times I spoke up in class about the importance of teaching young kids about nutrition after the instructor told me she wished I’d talk more.  I was regaled with the representatives’ personal missions of talking to kids about flavor and locally grown produce.  I was told kids don’t need to know why their little bodies need a certain food, but they should just be taught to eat locally and because it tastes good.  The kids requested new snacks for after school programming, such as, “anything but Sun Chips.”  These adults laugh about this as if it’s so funny kids don’t understand why Sun Chips are nutritionally more sound than the potato chips with their grains and baked preparation.
They told me how as long as kids are eating whole foods, they’re fine.  It’s another shining example of creating another generation of victims to the food industry. Why not teach the kids of tomorrow from an early age where to find nutrients for healthy lives?  Most kids can probably identify calcium in milk, but that is surely a result of dairy lobbying and Got Milk? campaigning.
Obviously, the USDA dictates the food selection so they kids are offered balanced meals, but from the reps’ viewpoint, they can just eat what’s locally tasty with a fun name like “Tic Tac Taco Salad.”  These kids are going to be fed whole foods in school for twelve years, then be out on their own without the knowledge behind why they’ve been fed that way.  They’ll be “helpless” and at the mercy of those “evil processed food advertisers” simply because they don’t know how to do any better on their own.  Not to mention the sticker shock they’ll experience when they go to Whole Foods to buy local organic kale.  School lunch should be about creating informed consumers, especially if parents cannot be bothered to teach healthy eating skills at home.
Who more appropriate to teach kids about nutrition than those providing the nutrients? Apparently, that’s not their job.  A classmate said nutritionists and dietitians are looked at as being judgmental.  Maybe so, but we wouldn’t have to judge poor food choices if the adults of tomorrow were taught to make good choices.  Instead, the school district makes the choices for them without further explanation aside from “it’s kale from Minnesota on Minnesota Thursday.  Eat it because it’s green and crunchy.”  They promote whole and local foods with samples in the lunchroom, but don’t want to provide nutrition information too.  I was reassured they have dietitians and nutritional staff making sure the food is healthy and meals are balanced.  The only Taco Salad the website lists in the nutritional facts for the menu at the district’s elementary schools boasts 923 mg of sodium.  62% of the daily adequate intake for those 9 to 18.  But I bet it tastes good!  And that’s all that matters, kids.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s