The timing of this couldn’t be more ironic.
I was at my son’s school. I had gone in to teach Art Masterpiece where once a month a parent takes over the class for an hour to teach the students about fine art and lead them in a creative project. While I was there I overhead his teacher in conversation with another . I didn’t understand the exchange at the time which centered on his teacher being chastised for challenging activities that were “earning money for the school”. His teacher’s refrain was that “obesity isn’t worth the earned revenue”. THEN, after school, I saw “the note” and I knew exactly what their dialogue had been about.
It read something like this:
Today I watched our class in the cafeteria. I observed first graders getting the main course of chicken nuggets with a side of an ice cream sandwich and another side of a poptart. No fruit and no vegetable. District policy prevents us from recommending food choices to your children…
What’s a mom to do? Make a sack lunch is the obvious answer but as a working mom, I love the convenience of the school lunch program.
1. I called his teacher, explained that I’d read the note and wanted her perspective. She’s wonderful and her intentions are in the right place but she’s looking for me to step up my parenting skills so that my 7 year old will make a smart choice and ask for broccoli rather than the ice cream sandwich. I’m open to suggestions.
2. I spoke with the school nurse. She’s unquestionably the highest level health professional at the school and is charged with the health and well being of the K-5 population. She told me that if I don’t like those choices for my child, I can go to mylunchmoney.com and block them. Really? Okay. I’m sure the instruction on how to do that was sent home earlier in the year and I must have missed it.
3. Next call, the principal’s office. I read the note to her and could hear total defeat in her voice. She completely empathized with my frustration, agreed that it was district policy preventing anyone from directing my son’s food choices. She offered total support for a position that would oppose the policy and the phone number for the District’s Nutritionist. The Principal closed with, “if they try to tell you that I’m the only principal who feels this way, push back. We’re all aligned on this one and would love to see change.” Our principal will retire in less than 6 weeks.
4. The District Nutritionist. I called, left a message and waited. She answered on my second call. The District policy is to put the entree item on the student’s lunch tray and beyond that, it is wide open for the child to choose their side dishes. Okay, so my first grader, his pals and all the kindergartners who participate in the lunch program are offered the choice; do you want green beans or would you rather have a poptart? I confirmed that this notion of choice was not a law or regulation but a policy. And she confirmed that I can block my student’s choice by visiting mylunchmoney.com.
5. A visit to the school website where the lunch menu is posted. Interesting, I can see the daily choice but there’s not a single mention of items like ice cream sandwiches or poptarts. There is a link to mylunchmoney.com but I need a username and password and I must’ve misplaced that as well as the manual on how to use the site. There’s also a nifty section on school lunch nutrition where I can enter the food items that my child will be able to purchase and it calculates the nutritional value of the lunch. I like this concept and find it odd that neither poptarts or ice cream sandwiches are choices that I can enter into the program.
6. I left a message for the School Board President. Today, an administrative assistant returned my call and told me that I’d need to speak with their legal department. Really?
Dear friends I have to tell you, there’s more to come on this one.