Have You Weighed in on School Lunch?

Do your kids, or kids you know, eat school lunch?

Punky does once in a while – maybe twice a month, and even that is more than I’m really okay with, but if they’re running late or something school lunch is better than no lunch – supposedly*.

I HATE letting Punky get lunch at school because it’s always such crud.  The only thing that passes as a “vegetarian” option is a plate of iceburg lettuce covered in cheese and ranch dressing.  Though half the time they throw lunch meat on there.  I am unaware of any meat AND dairy free options.

The new plan for the School Lunch and School Breakfast program has been published by Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is open for comment.  I urge everyone to take a moment to weigh in by April 13th.  Even if you don’t have kids!  This program has a measurable impact on the future of our country, not just on individual children.

Please urge the FNS to focus more on providing children with healthy vegetable based options instead of cheap surplus agricultural products and overprocessed empty carbs. EVEN if you’re not a vegetarian, tell the FNS that complete, nutritious vegetarian/vegan options need to be offered at every meal.  Even children who don’t eat meat would benefit immensely from having non-meat options as most US Americans eat an unhealthy amount of meat (and the meat served in schools is sub-par at best anyway).  Plus, there are an increasing number of children in the US who are effectively vegetarian or vegan due to skyrocketing rates of meat and dairy allergies.  Why shouldn’t those kids, and all the others, have healthy, complete vegetarian/vegan options?

Most kids in the US have no trouble getting all the fatty meat and carbs they need.  Veggies is another issue.  Put the focus on the food the vast majority of kids rarely get enough of: Vegetables!

Please go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov and submit a comment!  It only takes a minute, and it makes a big difference.  Feel free to excerpt anything I’ve written here, if you so choose.  There is also a sample letter from ALDF below.

Remember that your comments are public record. All comments submitted in response to this proposed rule will be included in the record and will be made available to the public. FNS will make the comments publicly available on the Internet via http://www.regulations.gov.

Feel free to use this sample letter from ALDF:

Sample Letter:
The proposed rule for nutrition standards in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) needs to put a higher priority on providing children with nutritious, plant-based foods in order to combat the rising rates of childhood obesity and its related health conditions. The NSLP and SBP have maintained an over-reliance on "cheap" surplus meat and dairy products, with taxpayers footing the bill in the form of rising health care costs and huge subsidies to animal agriculture.

To ameliorate these problems, the USDA should make the following important modifications to the proposed rule:

 ·      Require healthful beverage alternatives to dairy milk -- such as soy milk or rice milk -- be available at every meal;

 ·      Require at least one vegan meal choice be available at every meal based on naturally nutrient-dense whole grains, legumes, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits.

And I added a bullet about meals centering around vegetables instead of meat and carbs.

If you do go leave a comment (and you really should), I would love it if you would copy and paste and leave it here (or at my actual blog where most of the comments will be), too.  I’d love to hear what everyone is saying!

Thanks all!

*Re-reading that, I feel bad about the way it comes off.  I know that there are MANY children in the US who get their best meals from the School Lunch and Breakfast program.  For them, for those families school lunch and no lunch may be the only options, and obviously school lunch is a million times better than that alternative.  And that makes me feel even more strongly about this matter.  For those kids who get their most dependable nutrition at school, shouldn’t that nutrition be as wholesome as possible? 

And, really, shouldn’t we be doing a whole hell of a lot more for those families (as a Nation) than just bolstering school lunches?  But that is really a whole other post . . .

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