A few weeks ago, I blogged about my sister’s frustration with the school lunch program  on the first day a meatless menu was offered in her school cafeteria. Since that post, I have received many emails from individuals who have also had issues with the latest changes to the school lunch program, and some reported they are working to ensure that beef stays on school menus.
The beef checkoff program is one strong advocate of retaining beef on the menu when schools  are forced to cut down on the protein options offered to students. A beef checkoff-funded website, beeffoodservice.com, offers some resources to help schools build their menus.
According to the site, “Beef is an important part of a healthy diet for kids and an essential component of healthy school meals . Schools are faced with providing meals that help growing kids get all the essential nutrients they need for optimal health while still meeting the USDA requirements for healthy school meals. To help schools include high-quality protein, like beef, on the menu, a team of culinary experts developed five new beef recipes that can be easily incorporated into a school lunch menu. The recipes were tested in schools across the U.S. to evaluate students' response, but also ensure they are cost-effective and efficient to prepare and source.”
Among the recipe examples are: “Sweet Potato Beef Mash-Up,” a Southwest-seasoned ground beef and sweet potatoes dish served hash-style and topped with a mixture of plain yogurt and hot pepper sauce that can be served in a small whole wheat tortilla; and “Sweet and Sloppy Joes,” a mixture of ground beef, bell peppers, onions, raisins and tomato sauce seasoned with dried oregano and ancho chili powder that can be served on a whole wheat roll/bun and topped with chopped mango, jalapeno, tomato, cilantro or green onion.
Another proponent of the school lunch program is the Facebook page, “School Meals That Rock,” which describes itself as a “place to share and celebrate what is right with school nutrition in America. It is a counter-revolution to the media bashing of school meals and a tribute to every lunch lady (and gentleman) working to do amazing things for kids' nutrition.”
The page has a lot of kid-friendly finger food ideas and some rave reviews about school lunches, including photos of colorful and full school lunch  trays.
How well are the reduced options in school lunch menus going over with kids who are being served them? I ran across a recent article in The Blaze entitled, “Students Fed Up With Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Overhaul — Menu-Item Snapshots Spell Out Why.”  From this article, students' grading of the revised menu options appears to be well below average.
An excerpt from the article reads, “About 1 million public school  students said ‘no way’ to their cafeteria menus after Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign led to anger and frustration over food that apparently many American kids didn’t want to stomach. But for those without other options, all that’s left is the power of social media and cell phone cameras when they simply can’t take another bite.”
The language used by some of the students in their social media posts is a bit off-color, but the photos that accompany their posts provide good reason why they might be upset. You can view all of the tweets here, but below is a picture of one student’s lunch . I think I'd have trouble saying "yum" to that.
What are your kids saying about the school lunch program? Are the meals satisfactory, or do they fall short? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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