School’s Out but Lunch Program is Still Hot Topic

grillingloinI had a great at the Franklin County Fair this past week, talking with friends, meeting new acquaintances and promoting pork! I started by grilling bacon pork burgers Tuesday night during the fair parade as I was riding the Republican’s float themed “party party.” Thursday we grilled 500 pork burgers for Farm Bureau Day, and Saturday we donated grilled loins that were donated and served for lunch in the 4-H food stand.

During the fair, I even had an opportunity to talk to someone whom I’ve been trying to get together with for months! I’ve been chatting online with a woman in charge of the menu for a school system in my area. One of my biggest pet peeves is recent changes to the school lunch program, and I’ve been trying very hard to “listen” to someone with hands-on experience with this program. I was so glad to talk with her face-to-face and see her emotion. This woman certainly cares about the kids in her school, and she is obviously concerned for her job!

grillingloin2We talked as her young daughter enjoyed the rides at the fair, and she told me of her personal experience. She said this young girl was coming home from school starved and looking for something to eat. Now just think about this for a minute… the daughter of the person responsible for the school lunch content was coming home starved!

She said would then try to let her daughter eat an after school snack that wouldn’t ruin her appetite for the evening meal. If they eat the evening meal too late, how does that affect her daughter’s health? I could see the concern not only for her own child but also for the other school kids like the athletes, who come in at 7:30 AM to lift weights. How hungry they must be by the lunch time! These athletes get served the same lunch as all the rest of the kids, yet after school, they have practice that keeps them from getting that after school snack!

As I was listening to how the same portions are served to athletes as to the rest of the school kids, I was reminded of this Trent Loos’ statement: “Only Michelle Obama would feed the herd to meet the fattest 10% nutritional requirements.”

Those of us who raise livestock understand that you have to feed each animal a ration that is high enough in protein and fat to aid in their growth. High-performance animals, like dogs that jump from docks or horses that jump fences, have specially designed diets. Nutritionists help dairy producers design rations to keep their cows healthy and producing high-quality milk.

In my hog barn, we bring in pigs that are close to the same size. That way their feed requirements can be adjusted as they grow. However, the school lunch program is designed for the smallest kids. One size does not fit all kids! Let’s quit being this nanny state that tries to make every decision for every person!

Let’s quit dumbing down our society, so citizens don’t “need” to think!

The First Lady says she is going to battle opposition to the new school lunch rules to the end because “experts” design this program. If FLOTUS is “listening,” I hope she’ll take regional food differences into consideration. The way we eat in Iowa – and in the Midwest in general – is certainly different than it is other regions. For example, you don’t see black eyed peas or collard greens regularly on the dinner tables here. You’re not going to experience a lobster boil or a clam bake unless the seafood is flown in special for the occasion. We can’t raise citrus fruits here either. But this time of year, you can feast on the nation’s most delicious sweet corn and tomatoes. We’re also known for producing high-quality pork and delicious corn-fed beef.

Why not let concerned “local people” like head cooks at “local schools” choose the best food for their areas? “Fresh and local” is one of the hottest food trends after all! Let’s educate today’s school children about choosing a healthy diet and help them learn the correct portions to eat. If they aren’t starving when they get home, they just might eat healthier in the evening. Let’s empower them to make the right choices!

How can we make changes to the school lunch rules? I guess we keep talking. I guess we need to keep pushing and hope someone is listening!

P.S. It’s so ironic that as the number of calories are being reduced in schools, the amount of food that is wasted is no being reduced! Food wastage is the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Why aren’t people outraged by this stat? Just because you put a whole apple or a whole orange on a kids’ plate doesn’t mean she’s going to eat it. Restore sense to the school lunch program!