What Is Your Child Really Eating for Lunch?

“Ma…I’m starving! I didn’t eat the lunch today.”

“What do you mean? Pizza is your favorite day.”

“Yeah, but Ma…it was whole-wheat! Ewww! No one ate it.”

Do you remember the first time your child came home after the new federal school lunch program was put into place during the 2012-2013 school year?

I do. And as a parent, I had conflicted feelings about it.

Sure, it’s great to serve kids more healthful food. Idealistically, it’s hard to argue that there’s anything wrong with it. Reality, though, is different. As parents, it’s a balancing act every day, trying to get nutrition into them while giving them meals that they’ll actually eat. For a school lunch administrator, who has to deal with the different picky tendencies of hundreds of kids, I can imagine it’s so much harder.

To the parents who successfully raised their kids to truly enjoy whole-wheat pizza, without secretly wishing they were having the other stuff (because then you know what’s going to happen when they’re grown), kudos. I think that the rest of us are simply happy if our children have something balanced for lunch…something simple they enjoy, even if it’s sometimes whole-grain and sometimes white-flour-based…along with a bit of protein and some kind of fruit or vegetable. In a perfect world, I’d be really happy with that.

“Not all kids would eat whole-wheat in school. Maybe they’ll have fresh whole-wheat bread at home, but not whole-wheat pasta. Is it better for kids to be walking around hungry with a headache? A lot of kids are picky, picky eaters and they were really starving,” one mother told me.

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