Thursday, August 23, 2012

Turquoise Thursday: School Lunch Soapbox

I'm not quite ready to get down. 

I love this
floral reusable turquoise lunch sack
from KatieKouture on Etsy. 
This week there has been a lot of discussion about the new USDA changes to school lunch programs. What's all the commotion about? A reduction in protein served in school lunched. Children in Grade 9-12 will receive a 10-12 ounces of protein a week.

There has been a lot of discussion in this post of mine - Raising a Family Without Meat, and I would really encourage you to read this interview with Agriculture's Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding Meatless Monday and the new school lunch guidelines. It is kind of scary. I find it quite alarming.

I've learned a few things this week too from all the discussion:

Because of the new sodium guidelines the quality of protein should be much better. That a good thing. Also, more fruit and veggies are being included. Another good thing.

The USDA has created a one-size fits all program and that doesn't work.

There are WAY too many kids in this country going hungry. In Iowa it is 1 in 6 kids, and we are one of the lower states! Did you know according to Feeding America that more than 20% of the child population in America lived in food insure households in 2010. And research shows that hungry children do more poorly in school and have lower academic achievement because they can not concentrate. Katie Pinke's son is a growing high schooler, active on athletic teams and is definitely hungry with these new school lunch guidelines.

I would encourage you to join in on the discussion and contact those that can really help change things around.

Undersecretary of Food & Nutrition Services
Kevin Concannon
1400 Independence Ave, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250

Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack
1400 Independence Ave, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250

Finally, it is Turquoise Thursday so for those that have to pack your own lunch, or will now be packing your child's lunch here are some turquoise options.

I know it isn't very turquoisey (yeah I just made up a word) but how cute is this lunch sack made out of an old feed sack. 

I never even knew reusable sandwich sacks existed until I saw these from GetPersonalEtc.

If you want to stay involved int the school lunch discussion I would check out Sensible School Lunches on Facebook. It is a great page with lots of good resources for you and and your family.


  1. Thank you so much for including the addresses to send letters. I really appreciate that my blog traffic has jumped like a pole vaulter...and that the number of comments on it is larger than any I've ever had...but that won't get the program changed. We MUST send letters and have our voices heard. I don't think that Sec Vilsack and Undersec Concannon have facebook.

    Also I was disturbed by the transcript of Sec Vilsack being interviewed by Trent Loos. I am amazed that he seems pretty adamant that the program is good, yet he is pretty uninformed about it and about how kids eat...."these kids are likely to be receiving breakfast and dinner at home. This is just the school lunch program." Wow...what about those kids that lunch is the BEST meal of the day--possibly the only meal of the day when they get all the food groups and sit down to eat it. *deep sigh*

    1. Debbie, as you know I don't have kids, but what has been the most eye-opening for me is how many kids are hungry in this country. The school lunch program has to work because there are too many kids that rely on it. I completely agree with you that the discussion is great, but we have to also be talking to the people that can really make a change.

  2. Good post. I like the tie in between the school lunch issue and the lunch bags (love the first one from KatieKouture). Even though I don't have kids, I try to practice the "everything in moderation" thing. Except for frozen yogurt. I gorge on that.

  3. Crystal,

    I am excited for your passion on this issue. It's no secret that while we are both passionate about the importance of meat in a healthy diet, we see this issue slightly differently. I absolutely agree that it is important that we provide a healthy, balanced, and nutritious meal to children at schools both so that they can succeed in the classroom and have the fuel for healthy activity.

    I, too, was very disappointed by the interview with Vilsack because he should know more about the programs he is overseeing than any of us. And, it is incredibly obvious that he knows just as little (or less) in many regards.

    While they aren't creating a one-size fits all approach, they are certainly redefining the one-size-fits-all programs that was already in place. I am not happy they changed the grade school protein requirements, but the high school meat requirements remained unchanged.

    My only worry with your post is that you state they will get a maximum of 10-12oz. But, 10-12oz (m/ma) is the MINIMUM they must get. This is of key importance! There is no maximum stated in the final rule ( - it's 81 pages, I did skim large portions, but thoroughly read the portions about meat. Pages 4094-4095 are particularly pertinent. This is also a great resource:

    I truly wish that they had been successful in getting a m/ma requirement for the breakfast. Milk is a great protein source, but it's been shown that a high protein breakfast to jump start your day is particularly important and an additional protein source would be very advantageous. Heck, even cereals are finding ways to pump protein. Though I found this part of the final rule interesting "For example, for the K–5 age-grade group, the SBP minimum daily grain requirement is 1 oz. eq. As long as at least 1 oz. eq. of grain is served as part of the breakfast menu, a meat/meat alternate may also be served. The meat/meat alternate may count toward meeting the weekly grains requirement. For crediting, 1 oz. eq. of meat/meat alternate is equivalent to 1 oz. eq. of grains."

    1. Lauren, thanks for your insight. I am looking forward to reading through some of this information. Although unfortunately, it looks quite technical and I doubt it most parents have time to go through something like this.


Thanks for stopping by! I love to hear from all my readers. Hope you have a fabulous day.

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