J500 Media and the Environment

Hey, there’s something wrong with your kid by marybethw
March 4, 2009, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Food + Health | Tags: , , , , ,

veggielunch2That kid? That was me. In kindergarten I gave my teachers cause for concern — at lunch I didn’t eat my meat. Oh, I’d eat all my veggies (well, probably not cooked spinach), no problem there. Therefore they were concerned and asked my parents if I was all right. That was really the last time I ate daily in a cafeteria until…college. Don’t get me wrong, my college’s cafeteria was fairly accommodating to veg eaters like me; but, at the same time, I ate a lot of cheese sandwiches (yeah, not vegan yet). It really wasn’t until my senior year, when they added more veg options and even had soy milk available, when I finally got more choices.

Unfortunately, many kids eating in our schools cafeterias still don’t have much of a choice. More to the point, though, they aren’t consistently given a choice of something without meat and/or dairy or something low fat, which has many negative results. Luckily, however, change may be a comin’. There are various groups working toward healthier lunches and child nutrition. This is also a reauthorization year for the Child Nutrition Act; luckily, if the USDAs suggestions are implemented, schools will be able to offer things like soy milk and fresh, local produce without a lot of added costs. And it’s not just elementary, middle, and high schools. Universities are starting to not only offer more veg options, but are even making their facilities more green! All of which will be welcome news to the growing numbers of vegetarian youth.

I never really regretted growing up (generally) cafeteria-free — especially during middle and high school, when it seems the worst horrors occur. Who knows, though, maybe it helped me keep eating my veggies. I can only imagine what my early teachers would say now that I don’t eat meat or dairy.

~ Mary Beth

Image from: http://mb.sparknotes.com/sparktalk.epl?y=10


3 Comments so far
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I can just imagine elementary school teachers being concerned over your eating. `It’s encouraging to think that maybe this won’t be the case for future generations, and pizza and chicken nuggets won’t be the only options.

Comment by amandat09

Do you have any suggestions on how to convince the kids to pick the healthier option? I know my neighbor gets school lunches and they have the option for example of pizza or pizza with salad and fruit – most kids choose the fruitless version. What can the school do to get them not only to pick but also consume the stuff that’s good for them?

Comment by meganr21

Well, I think that the “healthier option” discussion needs to move beyond the school, which is why I think it’ll be good for government-sponsored food programs to encourage healthier eating (even things like being able to use food stamps at farmer’s markets). Otherwise, no matter what they learn in school, children won’t have the support to eat healthier. That said, I understand that, especially in poorer areas or areas where there aren’t many food options, healthiness isn’t always the biggest concern (things like cost win out). However, I think that with the spread of things like urban gardens (http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2009/03/beets-hood), it’s not too idealistic to think that in the near future healthier, affordable options will be available to everyone.

Comment by marybethw

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