The reason why some schools dropped the federal lunch program after only one year is due to the fact that picky eaters didn't buy the lunches simply because the meals were packed with so-called healthier whole grains, fruits, and vegetables the kids weren't familiar with at home. The school cafeterias lost money, and dropped out of the federal program, says an August 27, 2013 Associated Press news article by Carolyn Thompson, "Some school districts quit healthier lunch program: WRAL.com." Not enough vegetarian meal choices were introduced early enough and frequently enough at home for the kids to choose familiar foods at school lunch counters.
When children refuse to eat meals containing vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, unless they're all allergic to the specific foods, it's because they're unfamiliar with non-meat products. Too many parents are not introducing children early enough to healthier foods. The kids are being fed at home pasta, meat, and sometimes shell fish or fried animal protein of all types, potatoes either fried or mashed, and lots of chips, dips, and sodas or juice instead of vegetables, salads, whole grains, or legumes. The hungry kids preferred to buy junk food such as chips, sodas, and fries or fast-food burgers, pizza, and hot dogs from nearby convenience stores instead of eating the plates of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits included in the meals.
It probably wasn't the vegan kids who didn't buy the lunches, but most kids aren't from vegan families. What the issue is focuses on the $11 billion National School Lunch Program, which reimburses schools for meals served and gives them access to lower-priced food. Parents are feeding kids at home so many mac and cheese pasta dishes, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, and taking children to fast-food eateries, that many haven't seen what a healthy salad looks like or tasted a healthier salad of legumes, grains, greens, beans, roots, and fruits.
Why are schools opting out of the federal lunch program to cut childhood obesity?
The entire reason for a federal school lunch program in the first place is meant to provide healthier foods for kids, at least in school so they won't be eating themselves into pre-diabetes and obesity by eating to comfort themselves with sugar snacks and sodas, chips, and fried foods. But the children weren't buying the lunches. And that's because the parents didn't start their preschoolers and toddlers on plenty of legumes, fresh vegetables, and fruit early enough in life, but not, of course, as babies who need to eat what babies normally drink and sip before they eat solid foods.
As a result of unfamiliarity with healthier foods, the students avoided lunch lines and either brought familiar food from home such as ethnic foods or whatever else was familiar eating in the family, or skipping lunch. There's a whole generation of kids out there who prefer to go hungry at lunchtime rather than eat anything healthy. It's that generation that puts a frown on foods and avoids anything labeled healthy as synonymous with not tasting or feeling good to the tastebuds.
Some schools lost thousands of dollars from participating in the program when lunch sales dropped up to 12 percent, according to the AP article. To see how many thousands of dollars a few schools lost, when interviewed, check out the article, "Some school districts quit healthier lunch program: WRAL.com."
Now that the healthier foods from the federal lunches program has been dropped by some schools, what will replace the healthier vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will be the usual fast-food familiar pickings. For example, fish sticks and hamburgers will be back on the school lunch menu. But there's one bright light among the side dishes: yogurt and banana will be included along with the burger or fish sticks luncheon plate.
Statistics show that nationally, about 31 million students participated in the guidelines that took effect last fall under the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act
The reason kids eat hamburgers and fish sticks is that they are served those foods at home constantly since they were first eating solid foods. Too many parents are taking kids to fast-food eateries where they are not ordering whole grains and salads, vegetables, and fruits on a plate as a healthy meal. Instead, they're eating fries and burgers or fish sticks or pieces of fried chicken. Some kids never see a salad.
What children should have been eating are more legumes, for example, farro, spelt, quinoa, kamut, barley, or brown rice as a whole grain mixed in a salad with cooked green lentils, lemon juice, parsley, celery, cilanto, mint, basil, kale, spinach, oregano, and thyme, all chopped up finely and tossed together with a small amount of garlic, toasted almonds (unless allergic to tree nuts), chopped olives, and chopped red bell pepper.
You can drizzle over that salad a teaspoon of lemon-flavored Carlson's cod liver oil or even extra virgin olive oil, if you like, or some apple cider vinegar or lemon and lime juice mixed. Toss the salad and have the child bring it to school or eat it at home after school as a snack or a side dish or main dish. If kids are familiar enough with finely chopped raw vegetables and/or fruits, they know the taste is familiar. But who's going to eat that way?
Usually people familiar with Eastern Mediterranean tabbouleh who are tired of the cracked wheat and want to substitute other grains, including some or all gluten-free grains such as quinoa or brown or black rice. But for the standard American fast-food familiarity, it's burgers and fish chips in school lunches....only because kids are familiar with the foods because the family first introduces the children to those foods.
Kids preferred to eat junk foods or fast foods that are fried such as chips, burgers, deep-fried hot dogs, and finger food convenience stores to satisfy hunger instead of eating unfamiliar but healthier foods at the federal school lunch menus. Not all schools dropped the federal lunch program. But if it happened in your child's school, it's better to pack a healthy lunch that the child already eats and likes at home. Otherwise, kids trade lunches or run to nearby convenience stores for junk food to fill up their bellies with chips, sodas, and usually fried fast-foods or even candy and cookies, packaged cakes, or doughnuts.
Has your kid made or eaten beet burgers, for example, on home-made flax seed meal flat bread? That's one possibility families can introduce kids to before they get hooked on fast food fare or so-called 'junk' foods. Parents need to introduce kids early and frequently to greens, beans, roots, and fruits, even if served as side dishes. But the veggies and fruits should fill most of the plate, then the grains, and the smaller amount the meats, if you eat meat. But never put your baby on a vegan diet.