So what are you fixing for dinner? Taco Patty perhaps? How about a Round Wedge Pizza or Chicken Fryz? That's what's on the menu in the Harrisonburg, VA, school system. They're so proud of their fare, the posted big ol' pictures of them in all their glory on their website. I was hungry — right up until the point I saw these pics. Count 'em 22 different meals, and I only saw one green thing in the whole lot. The saddest lunch? The Italian Dunkers. Or, Cut Up White Bread With Sugary Spaghetti Sauce.
No wonder we're facing a childhood obesity epidemic. What makes this all the more alarming, is that so many kids rely on these meals to combat hunger. In the 2006-2007 school year, 16.3 million kids got free or reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program, a stat that's particularly poignant here in the midst of Summer. Reports show that Summer nutrition programs aren't meeting needs, and sponsors are backing out as rising food and fuel costs makes it impossible not to lose money.
The conundrum of course is what's cost effective and what will kids eat? For kids weaned on Cheetos and corn dogs, the goop in the pictures probably tastes fine. It's far from fine for them though.
To see which schools are combating the Italian Dunker,
In (my hero) Morgan Spurlock's movie SuperSize Me he profiled Appleton Central High School where kids are given fresh, wholesome, low-fat food through Natural Ovens, resulting in happier, more-focused students. Arkansas is hoping to be a "model state" in addressing childhood obesity, starting with banning vending machines. California has already banned trans fats in schools.
With poor communities getting the brunt of the Taco Patty (42 percent of Bronx elementary students are overweight) and school-lunch prices climbing even further (40 percent more in Des Moines) what's the solution? How can schools better serve our kids lunch?