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School food: kids are not eating progress

Ahh...the school's dream menu: veggies, tuna patties, and more veggies.
Ahh...the school's dream menu: veggies, tuna patties, and more veggies.

Would YOU eat this stuff?
“I was thinkin’ I could use me another couple cans o’ that potted meat if ya got any extree.”
Karl Childers, Sling Blade
The Houston Independent School District want their district to be a national leader in child nutrition and wellness among public school districts. This would make Michelle Obama very happy. In early February, the First Lady launched the “Let’s Move” campaign aimed at conquering childhood obesity. She cited that 1 in 3 children in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
Last year, to make a difference in school lunches around Houston, HISD and ARAMARK created a new centralized food production facility that serves every school in the district and ultimately prepares an estimated 220,000 meals daily for students – and up to 50 million meals annually.
The Food Service Support Facility is among the largest of its kind serving a district in the United States. The facility is on 15 acres in northeast Houston, and includes:
  • An 80,000 square-foot storage and distribution center with a central receiving area, cooler and dry storage, and over 25 delivery trucks
  • 95,000 square feet for food production with bakery, cook/chill and cold preparation capabilities
  • 45,000 square feet for administrative, maintenance and supply chain personnel, as well as dedicated training space.
“One of the main things this facility enables us to do that we have not been able to do before is to really control the ingredients that go into the food items we prepare for the schools,” Dave Richardson, Executive General Manager for ARAMARK Education at HISD said.
Is all of this focus making school menus healthier? YES it is!
Is all of this focus making school children healthier? Very few of them.
The HISD connect website states:
“HISD Food Services is serving up a healthier you! Our new menu has more nutritious, homemade items, new vegetarian entrees, and over 20 different items made from whole grains. Secondary schools feature four (4) different menu options; Grill, Pizzeria, Tortilla, and Favorites. Between 2-4 menu options are offered daily at each campus.”
The MENU is healthier, but is your kid really going to eat: Maple glazed carrots, orange smiles (what the heck is that?), broccoli and ranch dip, California blend veggies, or fiesta pilaf?
I polled the students at a local school and discovered @ 75% of them go to the “snack bar”, @ 10% bring their lunches from home, and the remaining 15% actually eat the “healthy lunch menu” that is undergoing great improvements.
Kids are going for: quarter pound burger & the brownie, and dumping the glazed carrots: bypassing the turkey and gravy with green beans & sweet potato pie to gobble the pepperoni pizza. They’re eating the tacos, mini ice cream, chicken sandwich, cheeseburger & fries (even if they are baked) and the fajita nachos. Turns out, kids don’t give a rat’s tail about the U.S. Dept of Agriculture’s policy and HISD’s accordance to their policies. They’re teenagers…and they’re hungry.
And…kids get that healthy sugar-loaded caffeine-enriched Coke, Dr. Pepper, or soda of choice at school too! Remember, that’s how HISD spent $100,000 of vending revenue so that favored educators could attend the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo gala events!
Recently, experts evaluated three Southeast Texas middle schools to determine the effects of the state nutrition policy. The researchers asked students to fill out anonymous food records immediately after lunch during the 2005-2006 school year. They compared those records to similar ones produced at the same schools in the 2001-2002 school year, before the policy was implemented. Results proved that students have become smarter at fooling the school’s nutritional analysts.
And, even though the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy, implemented in the 2004-2005 school year, restricts the portion sizes of snacks and high fat foods offered in all school environments including cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars….it does NOT prevent students from going back for “seconds” or ensuring a measurement of accountability in the program. For more information see
So…if you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em:
Sloppy Joes
adapted from Ellie Krieger
1 pound extra-lean ground beef (I used 97%), 1 onion, diced, 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (really, really small!), 1 red pepper, diced
1 can small red beans or pinto beans, preferably low sodium drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon salt, Freshly ground black pepper
8 whole-wheat burger buns
1. Brown the meat and the onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.breaking up the meat into crumbles as it cooks. Pour the drippings out of the pan and discard.
2. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and red pepper and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
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  • Elizabeth 5 years ago

    James: this is why parents need to get involved with what their child is eating. Where are the children getting the money for their junk food habits? From their parents!

  • bob 5 years ago

    Get rid of the soda machines and any vending machine that sells crap

  • Tomas 5 years ago

    This was written pretty good. It's a serious topic, but you did it with a humorous approach. Nice job.
    I agree with bob - if schools have vending machines, they need to be filled with only healthy selections. Frito Lay is making healthier chips (sun chips) and baked Lays. Juice machines should replace sugar soda machines. If there are no bad alternatives, kids will make the right choice.

  • rodney 5 years ago

    hey guys!!!!! iM PRINTING THIS OUT RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!! MAN1111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 I KNOW THAT IS A ONE LOL HA

  • rodney 5 years ago


  • projectiontrist 3 years ago

    blame the parents more than anything. i'm sick of rotten parents pointing their accusing finger at everyone else and making them foot the problems.

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