Out There

school health, junk food, and salmon

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on August 19, 2008

That lunch tray post made me think of a few other items.  One is our district health policy, which was adopted at figurative gunpoint after the feds said all school districts had to have one.  The health policy primarily puts restrictions on junk food that can be in the school during school hours, limiting candy, chips, pop, etc.  I wholly support this, although currently most schools just wait until an hour after school gets out and then they pull out the junk.  It IS a huge fundraiser.  But I tend to believe that if you have some decent offerings that make the healthy cut, and you simply don’t offer the junk, you’ll still sell a ton of stuff.  Like baked chips, gatorade, fruit snacks, beef jerky, pretzels, popcorn.  If you’re tenacious and creative you can come up with a bunch of stuff kids like that isn’t total garbage.

Oops, getting sidetracked.  I guess my main beef is the hypocrisy when it comes to what we serve at meals in the school.  Keep in mind that every one of our kids in our school qualifies for free lunch/breakfast.  Noone brings food from home.  We serve pizza, corn dogs, some pre-cooked burgers (weird), burritos, egg rolls, that kind of stuff.  We also generally give some kind of sweet item like canned fruit or brownies.  And a canned vegetable that is usually quite objectionable like canned peas.  I should point out that yesterday we had corn on the cob with the corn dogs and canned fruit in heavy syrup.  Some kids had never eaten corn on the cob before.  So that was great.  Our principal said that someone at the district office realized we were giving kids way too much sodium so they bought a whole bunch of frozen corn on the cob.  We have a fantastic cook, and my comments are not meant to diminish her contributions in any way whatsoever.
It’s just always struck me as pretty silly that we legislate what we can SELL as a fundraiser when we’re force -feeding them a ton of bad food.  We provide 2 of their 3 meals, Mon-Fri, and during sports season we do dinner pretty often too.  Local sites apparently have little say in what is served.  The district office in Bethel coordinates the meals district-wide and we just get boxes of stuff in the mail.  Which is why sometimes we have vast quantities of something we don’t even use.  Like 60 boxes of corn starch.  Or the 10 huge bottles of ranch and thousand island I saw in the fridge the other day.  I guess this is normal stuff when you have a far-away bureaucracy doing the purchasing for satellite facilities in the field.

So I’m making a lot of criticisms, do I have any answers?  I think the main problem is that the district feels that some local sites can’t be trusted to order appropriately (within budget, the right amount of food, the right quality of food, etc).  And they may be right.  These days I keep tripping over examples of people who seem to be pretty sloppy and careless in their work, and its disappointing.  Man, what a litany of complaints this post is!  I don’t want my blog to be a giant complaint session, but fixing problems is what my brain wants to do, and this is part of how I’ve been processing those things lately.  I’m not as good about “Hey I’m so thankful for _________” kind of posts.

Lastly, at one point to save $$ and offer something healthy, our principal bought some fresh-caught salmon from local villagers to serve in the cafeteria.  He ended up getting in trouble because we have to serve food that has been USDA inspected.  Lame.  We could buy all the fresh salmon the kids could ever eat for about $.50/pound or less, a huge savings over what we pay for the greasy & sweet stuff we serve now (especially when you consider the cost of shipping frozen food–something like $1.50/pound or more just from Anchorage to KUK, and in addition it generally arrives partly thawed).  So in order to conform to USDA regs, we are spending far more $$ to make our kids more obese & diabetic and at risk of colo-rectal cancer, etc etc.  Yuck.

Next post will be more positive!  : – )

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