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Would you eat a school lunch?

Are school lunches healthy? Ilina doesn't think so. What do you think?

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Ilina Ewen
Ilina Ewen

An Open Letter to the Wake County School Board,

As a rule, I don't feed my kids anything I wouldn't eat.

I'm wondering what you had for lunch today. Was any of this on your plate?

Propylene glycol.
Sodium nitrite.
High fructose corn syrup.
Monosodium glutamate.
Potassium bromate.
Butylated hydroxyanisole.

Butylated hydroxytoluene.

Such are the likely ingredients in the "healthy" options deemed appropriate for school lunches. The very institution that enriches our children's minds poisons their bellies. That stuff sounds more like the chemistry lab than the school cafeteria. What a ghastly disservice to our kids. Some of those kids only get a "nutritious" meal at school. Some of those kids don't have produce drawers stocked with snap peas for munching and bowls of washed fruit within reach. While we're pumping our students' brains with reading, fractions, history, and the arts, shouldn't we add a healthy dollop of nutrition and activity? And to think of those poor children who eat both breakfast and lunch at school.

Everything in those cafeterias are devoid of nutrition, laden with sugar, teeming with pesticides, pumped with hormones, soaked in additives. Not one green bean crunches. Not one hot dog is nitrite free. Not one milk carton is free of hormones. I challenge you to eat two meals at a public school everyday for a month. You just might give Morgan Spurlock enough fodder for a Supersize Me sequel.

Here in North Carolina we are fortunate to live in a climate that begs to be farmed. Our state is brimming with local farms and farmers who want to right by the earth and her inhabitants. Surely there's a way to leverage this, at least in a small capacity. Surely it's worth a try. We as a nation of partisan bureaucratic greed mongers, choose to fail our children. Is our state, indeed our very own county, walking the same path? This is not a byproduct of government snafus; this is a conscious choice. It's no cliche that children are indeed our future. Our future is starting to look bleak.

We see childhood obesity rise while test scores plummet. Coincidence? I think not. We sit back and nod our heads to news that for the first time a generation's life expectancy will be shorter than that before it. We cross our arms and ignore the rapidly rising rates of childhood diabetes. We are incredulous that children have high cholesterol. We wonder why health care costs soar to jaw dropping peaks. We scratch our heads and say, "Gee, I don't remember so much autism and ADD and ADHD and depression and fill-in-the-blank when I was a kid." I'm no doctor (despite desperately wanting to be one) but I'm pretty sure that our brains operate more effectively when enriched with nutrients and fresh foods versus polluted by preservatives and processed crap. Believe me, crap is the most tasteful word I could elicit.

Corn subsidies and continued policies that put the value of a buck over the value of a child are why we see such a drastic increase in childhood obesity. I am imploring you to seriously examine the state of our school lunches. In all the brouhaha of school busing and diversity and calendars, no one is thinking about what those students eat, no matter where or with whom or when they go to school. Our children are being robbed of nutrition, the means to a healthy lifestyle, and unfailing confidence in the system that should be nurturing them, body and mind.

As for my sons, I don't just feed them, I nourish them.

And I expect the same from my school.



A Mom Whose Sons Don't Need Prodding to Eat Their Veggies

Ilina, the mom of two, writes about food on Wednesdays on Go Ask Mom. You can always find her on her own blog Dirt & Noise.


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