Friday, August 28, 2015

Can the Government Get Children to Eat Vegetables?

The Agriculture Department rolled out new requirements in the 2012 school year that mandated that children who were taking part in the federal lunch program choose either a fruit or vegetable with their meals.

...."The basic question we wanted to explore was: does requiring a child to select a fruit or vegetable actually correspond with consumption. The answer was clearly no," Amin, the lead author of the study, said in a statement.
Not only that:
Because they were forced to do it, children took fruits and vegetables -- 29 percent more in fact. But their consumption of fruits and vegetables actually went down 13 percent after the mandate took effect and, worse, they were throwing away a distressing 56 percent more than before.
Can we please stop putting silly mandates on school systems when they already have enough to do?


G. Verloren said...

The issue at hand is a bit more complicated that it appears at first glance.

These are school lunches were talking about. It's well documented that they are typically on par with prison food in terms of edibility, and sometimes even below that. No child should have to eat anything remotely like some of the dishes served routinely at schools across the country. Corner cutting is the norm to save on costs, and in particular what gets classified as a "vegetable" might astound you.

If you google terms like "awful school lunches", you can find a lot of vocal complaints about these problems. The most recent bandwagon trend seems to be to blame the First Lady for her support of what are admittedly rather milquetoast "reforms" in the name of getting kids to eat healthier food, but the problem extends back decades and is deeply systemic. Rising food prices in the US have merely exacerabated the problem in recent years.

To be honest, I'm torn about the notion of school mandates. A worrying number of schools are run by idiots or worse, and if they weren't being hounded by various government watchdogs they'd be even worse than they already are. But at the same time, a lot of the mandates placed on schools are poorly thought out, inflexible, and ultimately counter productive - and the good schools in particular suffer for it.

If I'm being entirely candid, I honestly think our school system is at this point so fundamentally broken, so hopelessly mired in a system and a culture of mediocrity and mindlessly jumping through meaningless hoops, that the only real option is to completely overhaul everything - just tear the whole thing down and start from scratch.

...but of course, that would require a heck of a lot of money, and Americans hate paying taxes for anything that isn't the military...

pootrsox said...

The district where I taught (admittedly I retired 13 years ago) deliberately chose to refuse all federal assistance for free/reduced price lunches and fund them internally. Then they got rid of the traditional lunches and got themselves a mini-franchise for Subway, and contracted w/ one of the finest apizza places in the entire US (#54 on the top 101 US pizza joints list this year!) to deliver par-cooked pies daily. This was at the high school; I cannot speak to what they did at the middle schools.

So kids could have subs, or salads, made to order, or pizza slices.

I truly don't remember if they even were offered desserts, TBH.

The "soda" machines had long been emptied of empty-calorie beverages and had milk, water, juice.

The reason for all this? The quality of the previous lunch-line food was so horrid that they didn't sell any of it, and kids were going w/o lunch altogether b/c HS kids won't pack a lunch.