Our kids deserve protein-rich meals at school

It’s time for producers to fight for the food insecure in this country and work to ensure kids have access to protein-rich foods like beef.

Amanda Radke

February 8, 2022

4 Min Read
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I’m a mom on an absolute war path today, my friends.

In previous blog posts, I’ve shared my frustrations with the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and I’ve written about my concerns with so many public schools moving to plant-based menus.

This is despite the overwhelming evidence that meat, dairy, and eggs are rich in essential nutrients, which can help growing, active bodies and busy minds during the school day.

In the Big Apple, for example, Meatless Mondays have been introduced in schools. This is alarming because 75% of school kids in New York City qualify for free and reduced lunches, and 10% are homeless.
How does it make any sense to eliminate meat from the menu, when lunch served at the school may be the only decent meal a food insecure kid receives in a day?

As they continue to erroneously target meat, they fail to acknowledge that a three-ounce serving of beef has 180 calories and 25 grams of protein. Every bite of beef offers ten essential nutrients, including zinc, iron, protein, B vitamins, and heart-healthy fats.

As parents, as producers, as Americans, we need to push back and fight for our nation’s youth. They deserve high-quality proteins like beef, and frankly, I’m very angry about the anti-meat rhetoric that is based on falsehoods and continues to permeate into every inch of our society.

Related:New York City calls for Meatless Mondays in all schools

If you, too, are concerned like I am, check out what New York City is up to currently. According to KAKE.com, “New York City school cafeterias will switch to an entirely vegan menu on Fridays amid new efforts by city officials and the Biden administration to help provide critical nutrition for millions of kids.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced updates to school nutrition standards on milk, whole grains and sodium in school meals.

“‘Nutritious school meals give America’s children the foundation for successful, healthy lives,’ Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. ‘We applaud schools’ heroic efforts throughout the challenges of this pandemic to continue serving kids the most nutritious meals possible.’

“In New York City, public school cafeterias, which have already gone meatless twice a week, are making an effort to create healthier food options for students. NYC Public Schools will switch to an entirely vegan menu on Fridays as part of a new policy from Mayor Eric Adams. The initiative begins this week with Adams calling it a way to improve ‘the quality of life for thousands of New York City students.’

"Plant-based meals are delicious and nutritious, which is why I previously called for vegetarian and vegan options in schools," Adams said in a statement. "I'm thrilled to see that all students will now have access to healthy foods that will prevent debilitating health conditions.’”

I’m fired up, not because I’m a beef producer and want to sell product to consumers, but because I’m a mom of four who has seen first-hand what food insecurity looks like in my own home.

Many of you know that my husband, Tyler, and I are foster parents. During the pandemic, we have welcomed a dozen kids to our home, ages seven months to eleven years old. Last October, we were blessed to adopt one of these beautiful children, and be his forever family.

And what we have seen time-and-time-again is that food insecurity is very real in our vulnerable youth. This means after three or four helpings, they are wondering when their next meal is. They may hoard or steal food. They have that constant worry and fear about being hungry again, and this is simply unacceptable.

From a very basic and commonsense view point, which protein is more satisfying to fill hungry stomachs — broccoli or beef? This is infuriating, and lights a fire under me to fight for change. I want our kids to have the best possible nutrition, based on fact, and not fear, lies, manipulation, and politics.

To my fellow ranching friends — it’s time to get engaged. It’s time to say no more. It’s time to fight for the one-in-four-kids who goes to bed hungry at night in this country. If you’re fired up like I am, I invite you to get involved. The time is now. Who is up for the challenge of ensuring that every child has access to nutrient-dense, protein-rich foods like beef when they go to school each day?

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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