Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Our Schools are Teaching

I worked for years at a North Carolina high school with a student population of 1500. I often ate my lunch in the cafeteria where I witnessed hundreds of pounds of food being wasted at every meal. The cafeteria offered two choices. One line led to a hot "healthy meal," more often than not consisting of greasy meat and over-cooked vegetables with potatoes, or some pasta with cheese and tomato sauce. To the schools credit, this line offered a pre-made green salad. The other line led to pizza and French fries and attracted about three quarters of the kids.  The left-over "healthy" food was sometimes used the next day; yesterday's burgers found their way into the next day's lasagna. Tragically, the rest wound up in the dumpster. Even when the students opt for pizza, most of it goes uneaten.

Some kids leave home with a healthier bagged lunch only to discard it and head straight for the fries, or worse, go instead to the junk food and caffeinated beverage vending machines that line the lobbies of many of America's public schools.  
When I was in high school, I "skipped" the cafeteria and crossed the street to the corner store for a bottle of Pepsi and a Hostess Apple pie. Today, millions of urban children leave home without having had a breakfast only to stop at the quick-mart or local deli for a coke and some sugar-laiden snacks.

Aside from the mountains of wasted food that often are ignored in favor of a Doctor Pepper and a bag of Fritos, Federally subsidized school meals...... 33 million lunches and 9 million breakfasts a day....... are contributing to the alarming rise in obesity of our children.

"According to the New York City Department of Health, 43% of public elementary school students are overweight and 76% of New York City children are not getting the recommended five daily servings of fruit and vegetables."
Source: http://www.childrensaidsociety.org/
"While research suggests that as little as an extra 200 calories a day can make an adult overweight, a recent study led by Gary D. Foster, the director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University, found that children were getting 360 calories a day from chips, candy and sugary drinks"
Source: The New York Times.....March 27, 2011 from an article "Philadelphia School Battles Students' Bad Eating Habits, on Campus and Off"  by Michael Moss.

Compared with kids who brought lunch from home, those who ate school lunches:
  • Were more likely to be overweight or obese (38.2% vs. 24.7%)
  • Were more likely to eat two or more servings of fatty meats like fried chicken or hot dogs daily (6.2% vs. 1.6%)
  • Were more likely to have two or more sugary drinks a day (19% vs. 6.8%)
  • Were less likely to eat at least two servings of fruits a day (32.6% vs. 49.4%)
  • Were less likely to eat at least two servings of vegetables a day (39.9% vs. 50.3%)
  • Had higher levels of LDL "bad" cholesterol"

Source: http://children.webmd.com/news/20100315/school-lunches-linked-to-kids-obesity?page=2

Here in the United States, our school kids are faced with a double whammy!: Often uneaten Federally funded meals of questionable nutritional value, and the readily available, heavily advertised junk "foods" which represent tons of wasted food from the moment of their production. Both are making our kids FAT and unhealthy..... more prone to diabetes and heart disease before they reach 20!

Meanwhile, one in eight American is going hungry. Globally, more than 20,000 people starve to death daily.
Again I ask,



Thanks again for reading......

"........ and let's have another piece of pie."


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