Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

October 22, 2013

EDITORIALS: School lunch lessons; D.C. focuses on box scores

Embrace nutrition guidelines instead of refusing school lunch

Plattsburgh, N.Y., Press-Republican


Kids raised on white bread, fast food and sweets are not going to be thrilled by school lunches featuring whole wheat, salads and fruit. That's the crux of the reason some schools are now dropping out of the $11 billion National School Lunch Program.

It’s not a mass exodus, by any means, but some school districts  are opting out of the program because, they say, kids aren't eating what it now requires. Officials in Catlin, Ill., told the Associated Press that they saw a 10 to 12 percent drop in lunch purchases, amounting to $30,000, last year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for school lunches have come in response to a childhood obesity epidemic and other health concerns. Comfort-food lunches that were served in school cafeterias for years — meatloaf with gravy, buttered corn, white rolls and frosted cake, among other staples — were loaded with calories, sodium and starches.

You can’t blame the schools. That food was served by families at home. Government programs supplied it, and it could be produced in mass quantities at a reasonable cost. But it wasn’t doing kids much good.

Consuming a better balance of nutrients, less sugar and sodium, reasonable portions and less processed food is healthy for anyone - especially children who are forming habits that will determine their longevity, not to mention our future health care costs. So, the government is wise in forcing schools to serve more fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods and snacks like granola bars.

Schools that give up the lunch program take a big financial risk in turning down reimbursements of about 30 cents for each full-priced lunch, and $2.50 to $3 for each free or reduced-price lunch. Instead, schools and local health departments should continue to educate students and families about proper nutrition. Cafeteria workers should make the new foods as appealing as possible.

And parents must buy into the emphasis on nutrition. If they can encourage their children to eat these better foods at school - and stock their own cupboards with healthier choices - they will do everyone in their family a service.

Text Only
Opinion
  • I signed what? When Dr. Sam said, "You've got the prostate of a 16-year-old," it was hard to keep from beaming. This must be how a woman feels when a complete stranger tells her she has a beautiful baby. Well, maybe not quite. Still, it was hard not to feel proud o

    April 19, 2014

  • Obamacare's winning numbers Obamacare's critics have had a bad week. On Thursday, President Obama announced that 8 million people have enrolled in new health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces, and a significant portion of them are young Americans. Y

    April 19, 2014

  • The rise of big data: A double-edged sword Debates are raging about whether big data still holds the promise that was expected or whether it was just a big bust. The failure of the much-hyped Google Flu Trends to accurately predict peak flu levels since August 2011 has heightened the concerns

    April 19, 2014

  • Only love can re-make your heart Was Jeb Bush right to insert love into a political debate? Such was the gist of a question I was asked on talk radio in response to the former Florida governor's assertion that some immigrants come into the United States illegally as an "act of love.

    April 18, 2014

  • Stop big tobacco from promoting e-cigarettes The tobacco industry is sharply raising spending on advertisements and other marketing for electronic cigarettes to try to make smoking glamorous again and hook a new generation of Americans on nicotine. We shouldn't let them get away with it. If adu

    April 18, 2014

  • A mental health checkup The country's inadequate mental health system gets the most attention after instances of mass violence of the sort that the nation has seen repeatedly over the past few months. Not all who commit these sorts of atrocities are mentally ill, but many h

    April 18, 2014

  • Your new password: sur**nder Have you changed your passwords since the security flaw known as Heartbleed emerged? Have you made sure they're all long, alphanumeric and randomized? Did you use a unique one for every site -- every bank account, every e- mail address, every music-s

    April 17, 2014

  • Hillary leans on Bill, Obama Recently Hillary Clinton gave what appeared at first to be a rambling and unfocused answer when asked to name the proudest achievement of her four years as Secretary of State. The short version is, she doesn't have one. But Clinton's words make a lot

    April 17, 2014

  • If GOP lost culture war, liberals did, too The "culture wars" have been a feature of American politics for almost a century, but recently a number of commentators have declared their end. Conservatives have lost, swept aside by a wave of enthusiasm for marriage equality and sexualized mass cu

    April 17, 2014

  • Cable guys too slow with Internet upgrade Remember the good-old 1990s, when you could make a pot of coffee while waiting for the screeching dial-up modem to connect to the Internet at a leisurely 9.6 kilobits per second? Two decades later, the average American household's connection is 1,000

    April 16, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks