Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why Aren’t I Celebrating?

Guest Post from Real Food for Real Kids - Montgomery.  Their next meeting will be held this Wednesday, Jan 23rd, in Silver Spring.

Why Aren’t I Celebrating? 
I just read an article in the Washington Post on Wednesday, Jan. 16 – DC schools’ director of food services lost his job. Apparently, their operation has been losing $10 million a year. On the other hand, MCPS Division of Food and Nutrition Services (DFNS) earned a profit last year of $2 million. Why aren’t I celebrating? DFNS takes in over $42 million in revenue each year, 17% of that from the sale of snack/a la carte items (anything not part of the lunch meal). So, MCPS DFNS earns over $7 million a year by selling what is basically junk food to 150,000 kids. Now there’s a captive market. Every day of the school year in the lunch line at my daughter’s middle school you can purchase: 7 types of ice cream/frozen desserts; strawberry flavored milk (HFCS, artificial color and flavor, 22 g of sugar); Doritos, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, Rice Krispie Treats, cookies, Fruit Wave H20 flavored water (80 calories, 20 g of sugar, the artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium); V8 Fusion (more calories and sugar than soda!), and a few other similar items. To round this out, the vending machines in the cafeteria (available all day every school day) sell: Cheetos, Cheez-It’s, Goldfish, Rice Krispie Treats, Kellogg’s Pop Tarts, Fruit by the Foot, cookies, Kellogg’s Pastry Chips, the aforementioned Fruit Wave H20 flavored water, plus a few other items.  An additional vending machine outside the media center (turned on at 2:40 pm when the school bell rings), sells Doritos, Cheetos, Cheezits, Andy Capp Hot Fries, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, M&M's, Peanut Chews, Reese's Pieces, Caramel Creams, Danish Pastry, plus a few more items.  Next to this is a drink machine stocked with Coke, Diet Coke, Dasani, Coke Cherry, Nestea, Fanta, Sprite, and Barg's Root Beer.  It's a shame for MCPS to waste all that money on nutrition education when they're modeling such abysmal food practices.  If this information concerns you, please consider joining our advocacy group.
"Real Food for Kids - Montgomery" is a grass-roots parent advocacy group promoting whole, delicious, fresh foods in the Montgomery County Public Schools. Formed in October of 2012, we currently have parents representing 25 different elementary, middle, and high schools. We are looking for at least one parent from each of the 202 schools in the county to share their expertise and passion for this issue, and who would be willing to work on a variety of topics including but not limited to: opting out of school snacks; teachers rewarding children with food; free water in the cafeteria; sugar in the schools; vending machines; and processed food. If you are part of a wellness committee in your school, or just a lone crusader, please consider joining us. Our next general meeting is scheduled for Wednesday evening, January 23, 2013 from 7:30-9:00 pm in downtown Silver Spring. For more information, exact location of meeting, and to RSVP, email us at RealFoodMCPS@gmail.com.

12 comments:

  1. How about teaching our children to make good decisions? I just tell my child not to buy the junk. Just get a lunch and move on. Guess what, it works...but I guess it makes us feel better to blame the school system so we don't have to take responsibility for our own choices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How's that work in elementary school when the "lunch" IS the junk?

      Delete
    2. For us it has meant teaching our kids what's really in the foods out there. They know which foods are proteins, which are carbs, which have what vitamins and minerals, what families the different foods belong to (BTW, corn is NOT a "vegetable" - it's a GRAIN, no matter what the Feds tell you). We've learned a LOT about food - and food-like products, where additives come from and what they can do to us. And the kids themselves KNOW how they feel after a juice box or after artificial colors, and that they don't like it. It did take a detox period for the older (she was 4YO when we went whole-hog cleaning up our diets, and she's about to turn 11, so it's been almost exactly 7 years today!), but the younger one hasn't known anything else. They can't even tolerate commercial yogurt now (we make it once a week by the gallon, WAY cheaper than buying it!).

      And yes, it's more work to pack lunches every day, at least "up front," but it's an investment we make together as a family. They help pack, and after supper every day, leftovers get loaded into smaller containers to go right into lunchboxes the next day. Once a week is PBJ day on GF bread (no way I can afford to buy that stuff more than once a week anyway!), the rest of the week is leftovers, and yogurt, and high-nutrition-density snacks.

      That's how it works for our family in elementary school, anyway. And on the other end of the spectrum, there is a family in our school who brings McDonald's and a Coke for their kid every day! (except for the days they bring him Dunkin Donuts washed down with Sprite, anyway :P) There *are* worse lunch choices out there than school lunch - but you have to work to find them! :-(

      Delete
  2. @Anonymous 3:22, Are you confident that your child doesn't buy the junk? Parents can take responsibility, I agree, and to me, this is what the Real Food for Kids - Montgomery group is doing - taking responsibility as citizens. This is what Obama said in his speech yesterday: "You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast..." Citizens have the right and obligation to speak out, and not just limit their voices and activism to the ballot box. The 'school system' is paid for by our tax dollars and directed by our elected officials. So, kudos to the Real Food folks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I appreciate this campaign but I am very curious about why the food in the actual lunch lines (meals and a la carte) seems to be excluded. When I read the title, I thought it was going to be about getting local, whole foods into the lunches.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I tried to reply to this email address but it bounced back. Can the guest poster offer an alternative or correction?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So sorry. Can you try again? We got a number of responses, so I'm not sure why yours bounced back.

      Delete
  5. This is #1 problem in MCPS. I'd never buy the stuff they serve.

    ReplyDelete
  6. For the life of me I do not understand how much of the food I see in my kids' elementary school can possibly pass any sort of nutritional muster. Pancakes topped with "maple-flavored" syrup (aka HFCS & artificial maple flavoring), served with fruit in syrup (HFCS-based, naturally) and washed down with pink milk also sweetened with HFCS and turned pink with a coal-tar-based coloring that's been banned in Europe because studies are showing more and more links between artificial colors and disruptive explosive behaviors. JUST the sort of thing we need more of in schools, of course. (<--sarcasm)

    But hey, it fulfils Federal nutrition mandates, so it must be all good, right?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Deb and others, is it possible for your children to take photos of the lunches and the food they eat? We would love to post photos of school food to this blog. Send the photos our way!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I send my kids with lunch from home Every. Single. Day. We have food sensitivities to gluten, dairy, fructose, and oh yeah, artificial colors. That leaves precisely, well, NOTHING in the average school lunch that they can eat. *shudder* And they've both told me they'd rather starve if they forgot their lunch some day than eat the stuff they see on the trays. They both know how to read ingredients pretty well now. It's good to know my indoctrination plan is working. *grin*

    ReplyDelete
  9. they should not have this stuff in schools!!! Take a look at the second ingredient: Levulose

    • Doesn’t digest like other sugars. It sticks in your small intestine.
    • Found in agave plant
    • Slows tissue growth
    • Made in PRC (The People’s Republic of China)
    • Potential risks include
    • Heart disease
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Liver Problems

    ReplyDelete

If your comment does not appear in 24 hours, please send your comment directly to our e-mail address at contact AT parentscoalitionmc.com