Editorial: Help kids make healthy choices
Last week we featured a story about a group of parents who are asking the Fairfield school district to look into the current school menu and consider a change. The problem, they say, is that the current cafeteria food contains too much processed food. This is absolutely true, and their mission should be applauded.
We agree that our children should be fed the most nutritious, wholesome food possible. The school district and its food services division probably agree, too. The problem is that it isn't always possible. Feeding people en masse is an expensive undertaking.
Anyone who buys organic food, including and especially produce, knows that uber-healthy eating will cost a little extra.
Commodities like corn and rice products are produced in bulk and are much cheaper to manufacture. Commodities producers also get a lot more financial help here and overseas to produce and ship their products.
Produce and dairy farmers, on the other hand, get much less financial help, so it costs them more to get healthy foods to your table -- or in this case, on the school menu. That's why their goods are a little more expensive.
This food revolution needs to start before the school district stage. Producers of healthy foods need to get more government financial help so they can afford to offer food supply companies healthier choices at a lower cost. The cost savings there will trickle down to the school district.
Obviously something like that is a huge undertaking, but it's something worth addressing with your congressman or senator.
In the meantime, parents need to also take responsibility for their children's eating habits. Yes, there are some things on the school menu that kids should not be eating every day, like cheesy bread, pizza or chicken tenders. These items on the elementary school menu, along with nachos, pasta and sauce, meatball grinders and Sloppy Joes, are among the featured menu items on any given school day. However, every single day, in addition to the main menu item, the food services department also offers elementary students a choice of a chef salad, a deli sandwich or a cereal/yogurt plate.
At the secondary school level, the main menu items listed above are generally part of the fare, but students can also choose salads, yogurts, soups or deli sandwiches (including wraps).
There are healthy items available to Fairfield's school children. We need to teach them the importance of making healthy food choices, and this needs to happen at home and at school.
A line from the Fairfield school district food services mission statement says: "Food Service employees will provide all students the opportunity to reach their maximum learning potential through healthy food choices."
The key here is the word "choices." This has got to be a group effort by the school district, parents and children.
Yes, a better solution is to only offer the absolute best food available. At this time, that might be out of our hands. Instead, let's work together to control the part we can.
Go to the Fairfield school district website (www.fairfield.k12.ct.us) and click on the "lunch menus" link to see the resources available for parents and students.
The school district website also promotes a weight-loss program, which is sponsored by the Fairfield Health District and run by Dietician and Diabetes Educator Nancy Ryan. Lean & Lively offers evening and morning classes throughout May. Call 203-256-3150 or e-mail email@example.com for more information.