This development is a setback for that overall mission on several levels. First, it is unfortunate to see schools kowtow to the taste buds of its students so quickly. Parents know getting a child to eat healthy is no easy task, but it is a winnable battle.
But it is not one that’s made simple through the new federal guidelines, which are so restrictive they allow cooks little room for maneuvering. They go so far as to break down vegetables into groups based on color, requiring dark green veggies to be served one part of the week and red or orange options another. These restrictions were drawn up with the best of intentions, but we have to wonder if setting more general guidelines and simply banning the worst of lunch line offenders (cheese sticks, pizza, French fries, vending machine foods, etc) and mandating the use of fresh ingredients might have been met with more success.
We may never know. Sadly, the students who need better nutrition the most, those in poorer urban districts, may end up with the short end of the stick as they’re offered unpalatable, unimaginative options while the vending machine beckons. In the suburbs, we simply hope schools opting out of the program will take their experiences as a learning opportunity instead of returning to the status quo.