As a former teacher, I’ve spent more than 36 years watching children eat lunch. In response to Wesley Yiin’s June 18 article, “Healthier School Lunches Are Catching On” I say, “Catching on?” may be more like “Coming back!”
To those school districts that say students “don’t like school prepared lunches and throw them away,” I say that “your priorities are all wrong.”
Many years ago while teaching in a local elementary school, I walked past the second-grade students lined up for lunch. Teachers were able to move into the kitchen and get freshly made soup of the day, salad items and sandwiches. All were available for teachers only. Passing the line of children after getting my lunch, I heard one little girl say, “Why can’t we have that?” Why indeed.
Do students throw away food? Yes, they do. They throw away partially cooked, semi-reheated, unappetizing food from ill-conceived menus. And so, then, why is it served? There’s a one-word answer — money.
A particular food service company has won a bid for the contract year and it has indicated a specific fee for the term. It then, in order to make a profit, must come in under that amount. As elementary lunch duty teachers, we tried, repeatedly, to eliminate the selling of sugar-infused snacks at the end of lunch. We were unsuccessful. And, why, you might ask? Again, money. We were told that the selling of these items was where the contracted food service company actually made a profit.
Therefore, it is important for those involved to try to effect a change. For the sake of our children’s health, can’t we try to look at lunchtime as part of the education of our students? Let’s eliminate the big-money middleman and go back to good food that kids will eat — soups, salads and sandwiches, freshly prepared by cafeteria ladies who care about their jobs. I guarantee the kids will eat it.