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School cafeterias usually gravitate to what the majority of kids will eat. Remember OBama's wife and her campaign to bring healthy foods to school cafeterias? Most kids wouldn't eat anything and the food would up in the garbage- as did her school lunch program.
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I'm a chef instructor at a rural high school. I don't entirely agree with your answer. The production of decent cafeteria food was really hurt by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act which mandated low sodium, whole grain, no frying, and the use of lots of fruits and vegetables. Any school that expects to receive Federal funding for free or reduced school lunches must abide by Federal requirements.

It doesn't help that school cafeteria workers are among the lowest paid members of the food service industry. Although school cafeterias COULD make everything from scratch, many simply don't have sufficient trained personnel to do so. Even if these cafeterias had sufficient cooks, the average budget per meal is $2.93 and the meal must meet Federal nutritional guidelines under the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.

To be candid, it's a lot easier for most cafeteria managers to just buy processed heat and serve foods. This worked out great for me at another school because they surplussed a stand mixer which I picked up for my Culinary Arts kitchen.

You are right regarding the amount of wastage. The food is bland and boring and kids who are reasonably affluent either go off campus to eat (provided this is allowed at their school) or they bring sack lunches from home.

Kids who eat school lunches are often forced to take fruits and vegetables that they don't want because if the cafeteria can document that these foods are being served, they get more money from the Feds. The Feds apparently don't care whether or not anyone actually EATS the fruits and vegetables that are being passed out ... and quite frankly I've been appalled to see perfectly good grapes, apple slices, and other items being tossed out.

Although the Federal legislation regarding school lunches was well intended, like all too many Federal programs, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act has had unintended consequences.

I personally think that the government has no business mandating healthy meals. Low income students were much better off when they were served food that they would actually eat.
 

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So the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act is still with us? I thought it was tossed out. That's the thing about laws, once they are passed you can't get rid of them.
Yep. It's still with us. Anyone who wants Federal funding for free or reduced meals along with donated groceries from the USDA must comply with the Hunger Free Kids Act.

It's appalling how much food is getting dumped.

One of the unintended consequences is that kids who refuse to eat the school lunches are snacking in their respective classrooms. They're primarily snacking on junk food which is what the Feds DIDN'T want the kids to do.

Crumbs from junk food that aren't swept up either by the classroom teacher or the night custodian are also contributing to on-going pest issues in some schools.
 

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One of the unintended consequences is that kids who refuse to eat the school lunches are snacking in their respective classrooms. They're primarily snacking on junk food which is what the Feds DIDN'T want the kids to do.
You give the feds way too much credit. "Unintended consequences"? No, the Hunger Free Kids Act was a way to create a legacy for Michelle OBama. That kids refused to eat the required food and there are roaches crawling around the classrooms are of no consequence, not unintended.
 

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Back to the original topic. Being a Chef makes it hard to go out to dine without being judgmental of the place.
I have dined at many places with mediocre (at best) food, yet the place is busy all the time.

Since food is so subjective, and many people are "food ignorant" that they simply accept what's put down in front of them.

I dined out last night and ordered a Filet with "Oscar topping." Asparagus spears, lump crab meat and Hollandaise sauce.
The filet was cooked perfectly but the crab meat was in the first stage of going bad.

If you've worked with food enough your sense of smell is highly educated to detect those nuances.

I shoveled it aside but told the server.
How many people would have eaten that crab without evening knowing it was bad?
Even breakfast with overcooked eggs and omelettes, under cooked anemic hash browns and burnt toast...the place is packed.
Go figure it out....
 

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You give the feds way too much credit. "Unintended consequences"? No, the Hunger Free Kids Act was a way to create a legacy for Michelle Obama. That kids refused to eat the required food and there are roaches crawling around the classrooms are of no consequence, not unintended.
Your obvious political bias not withstanding, Do your REALLY think offering fruits and veggies in place of Junk Food is unacceptable? Kids, like adults, have changing tastes, and if they never get exposed to anything other than "heat and serve" salt laden food, they'll only have one future: FAT.

As to the "roaches" in classrooms....how is that related to cooking in another part of the building? Is cooking or food prep done in the classroom? If not, the "roach" issue is not connected to the issue at hand.
 

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Where my kids went to school there was a major reworking of the school lunch program to get away from the traditional-style 'ketchup is a vegetable' and frozen waffles with fake syrup rule the morning. The State, and with it the local school district implemented a much better service and moved towards 'farm to table'. For $3.50? The school lunch is one of the better deals around these days.
This would be nice at my kid's school. The lunches there are almost $3 and they just rotate pizza, french toast sticks, chicken fingers, mac and cheese and the like.
 

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Your obvious political bias not withstanding, Do your REALLY think offering fruits and veggies in place of Junk Food is unacceptable? Kids, like adults, have changing tastes, and if they never get exposed to anything other than "heat and serve" salt laden food, they'll only have one future: FAT.

As to the "roaches" in classrooms....how is that related to cooking in another part of the building? Is cooking or food prep done in the classroom? If not, the "roach" issue is not connected to the issue at hand.
I think offering fruits and vegetables is great but unfortunately there are a couple of big hurdles with that. One is that the cost of serving these types of items is way higher than what they were currently using. Add to that you need more skilled labor to produce these items without ruining them. (It does take a little more skill cooking vegetables properly rather than opening a #10 can and throwing them in the oven until they turn gray.) The other issue I believe would be that while it may take continued exposure to these items to slowly add them to the children's diets, the school is in the hard position of trying to feed and give some nutrition to these children but also make it healthy.

So what would be better or worse, feeding children foods that they like and will eat that are not as nutritionally balanced so they can be full and pay attention at school or feed children foods they may not like/aren't used to which are better for them nutritionally with the hopes that they will eat it with the possible side consequence being hungry kids who cannot concentrate through the rest of the day.
 

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Your obvious political bias not withstanding, Do your REALLY think offering fruits and veggies in place of Junk Food is unacceptable? Kids, like adults, have changing tastes, and if they never get exposed to anything other than "heat and serve" salt laden food, they'll only have one future: FAT.
No, I don't think offering fruits and veggies in place of junk food is unacceptable but what difference does it make if they won't eat them? Tell me how it should be a schools responsibility to teach kids how to eat? As I said above, it all begins at home and if parents won't teach their kids to to eat properly what do you think is going to happen at school?
 

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As I said above, it all begins at home and if parents won't teach their kids to to eat properly what do you think is going to happen at school?
I learned the basics of reading and writing at home before I ever went to school; however school helped me to expand my knowledge on those subjects. I learned the basics of a balanced diet at home before I ever went to school, but why shouldn't schools attempt to contribute to expanding a child's food knowledge. If my food knowledge was limited to what I learned at home, I probably wouldn't be a chef today and my diet wuldn't be near as healthy as it is! Knowledge comes from many sources, not just from home. Institutions of education should be interested in expanding knowledge in as many subjects as they possibly can. Schools are not meant to replace what is learned at home. but to supplement it and to help a child expand his mind.
 

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I learned the basics of reading and writing at home before I ever went to school; however school helped me to expand my knowledge on those subjects. I learned the basics of a balanced diet at home before I ever went to school, but why shouldn't schools attempt to contribute to expanding a child's food knowledge. If my food knowledge was limited to what I learned at home, I probably wouldn't be a chef today and my diet wuldn't be near as healthy as it is! Knowledge comes from many sources, not just from home. Institutions of education should be interested in expanding knowledge in as many subjects as they possibly can. Schools are not meant to replace what is learned at home. but to supplement it and to help a child expand his mind.
The school I went to had classes focused specifically on food, cooking and baking. The schools are already so tight on budgets and fitting in all of the curriculum that it stands to reason that they have to choose subjects like math and science over food nutrition and proper diet. It also shouldn't be the school that tells the students what to eat or not to eat. The goal of the lunch period is to ensure that the majority of students there eat something.

Also with so many students being on a free breakfast and lunch program, I'm sure they aren't eating the best at home so the food they are getting is most likely food they are used to or already getting. We also have to understand that if a student only gets a lunch at school there are many other meals they are not which are being served in the home. It doesn't matter if we force feed them greens and fruits during one meal of the day if all of the others they are getting are processed crap.
 

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The schools are already so tight on budgets and fitting in all of the curriculum that it stands to reason that they have to choose subjects like math and science over food nutrition and proper diet.
Not all education takes place in the classroom.

It doesn't matter if we force feed them greens and fruits during one meal of the day if all of the others they are getting are processed crap.
If all the kids do at home is spend time on their cell phones, video games, and TV, why bother teaching them math and science?
 

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So what would be better or worse, feeding children foods that they like and will eat that are not as nutritionally balanced so they can be full and pay attention at school or feed children foods they may not like/aren't used to which are better for them nutritionally with the hopes that they will eat it with the possible side consequence being hungry kids who cannot concentrate through the rest of the day.
I agree, there is no 'easy solution' here. That being said, giving them something that is clearly not nutritious in place of giving them something that *may* spark their interest / taste buds, I'd favor the latter. The training issue you raise is also clearly an issue; some folks are not doing this to learn or evolve as a professional; to far too many it's the paycheck that is the focus.
 

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No, I don't think offering fruits and veggies in place of junk food is unacceptable but what difference does it make if they won't eat them? Tell me how it should be a schools responsibility to teach kids how to eat? As I said above, it all begins at home and if parents won't teach their kids to to eat properly what do you think is going to happen at school?
It makes a difference in the following way: if you DO NOT offer healthy alternatives the eating habits of kids will NEVER change. I know too many parents who don't ask their kids to "try" something once or twice; who cave in and give them glorified McDonald's crap that masquerades as "food" just so they won't have to convince their children to broaden their pallets.

Call me an optimist, but if you never know what else is out there, you're never going to experience it.....
 

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If all the kids do at home is spend time on their cell phones, video games, and TV, why bother teaching them math and science?
Well that's because it's usually mandated by law for both child attendance to said school and the learning material through state or federal guidelines and programs. I don't know of any educational laws that mandate learning proper nutrition and eating.
 

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I know too many parents who don't ask their kids to "try" something once or twice; who cave in and give them glorified McDonald's crap that masquerades as "food" just so they won't have to convince their children to broaden their pallets.
Parenting 101: You don't ASK you TELL. And if they won't eat what you put in front of them they don't eat. You'll see how fast they "broaden their pallets". Parents need to be parents NOT their kid's friends!
 
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