Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Shame on Missouri!

Yes this is going to be a rant!

Yesterday I was alerted to the newly proposed changes, open for public comment, in the Missouri Eat Smart Guidelines - standards for school lunches (and breakfast) in my state. When I first opened the document, I was not surprised by the incremental reduction of dietary fat and the push for more fiber, especially with whole grains.

What did surprise me was the absolute lack of attention to nutrient-density at each category level. Oh, there is a minimum which applies to each category - the minimums established by the USDA that establish minimum calories, fat not to exceed 30%, acceptable levels of protein, cholesterol, sodium and fiber, along with target minimums for calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.

So the committee drafting the newly proposed "expemplary" category didn't think it wise to perhaps set the bar higher - ya know, establish benchmark minimum for other micronutrients...maybe the same ones identified as deficient in our children in Missouri?

Hey, the starting document to consider this could be the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) recently published Dietary Intake Summary Report for school year 2000-2001 - in it the DHSS reported finding the vast majority (greater than 50%) of all children in the state fail to meet RDA requirements for vitamin A, iron, calcium, folate and zinc, and 25% fail to meet requirements for protein, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.


We have a serious problem with malnutrition and the best the Missouri Eat Smart Guidelines committee can come up with is stricter limits on dietary fat and increasing fiber?

Has the committee that drafted this guideline even looked at what is being served in our schools?

Columbia public schools offer this delight each day:
Smucker's PBJ Uncrustable, Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Pretzels, Rice Krispie Treat, 1% cholocate milk, baby carrots and a fruit.

Can you imagine what would be said to a parent packing such a lunch for their child?

But guess what? That lunch conforms to the standards for low-fat with just 21g of dietary fat (24% of calories) - just ignore the fact that once protein is tallied, carbohydrate accounts for 508 of the 789 calories - that's 127g of carbohydrate, or the equivalent of 32-teaspoons of sugar in a child's metabolism in one meal!

But hey, it provides 6g of fiber - above the target 5g standard, right?

The public schools have the audacity to call that abomination a nutritious lunch?

Oh, and don't get me started on the soy-based products being used in meals and that fact not being disclosed to parents, unless of course, they poke around to read the allergen lists.

Beef Tacos on the menu?

I'd expect they're made with beef, wouldn't you? Nope...they're based on an "enriched" product schools purchase - made with some beef and an ingredient listed as "VPP" - vegetable protein product - better known as soy protein.

Chicken Nuggets on the menu?

I'd expect they're breaded chicken pieces, wouldn't you? Nope...they're also based on an "enriched" product schools purchase, already prepared - made with some chicken and an ingredient listed as ISP - isolated soya protein.

Think it can't get worse?

I don't think schools do much more than open a can, heat and serve these days - just reading through the spreadsheets available online makes that pretty clear - almost everything sold in school breakfast and lunches are convenience foods, from various vendors, that are nutritionally bankrupt, but easy to heat and serve.

If a parent were to habitually feed their child that crap, at the very least they'd be chastized as irresponsible - yet this is how the schools operate each day, serving what can only be called food-garbage each day and they have audacity to label them "healthful" and nutritious.

When you have a chance, read through the proposed Missouri Eat Smart Guidelines, then let the committee know what you think in the open public comments!

If people don't start speaking up, and demanding truly nutrient-dense meals for their children, it's only going to get worse!


  1. Tammy4:51 PM

    Holy crap! I live in MO and had no idea they're feeding my kids soy products all the time or that they allow so much sugar in stuff!

    I just left comments that I'm disgusted with their focus on fat instead of vitamins that they themselves identified as deficient in our kids!

  2. Anonymous5:23 PM

    Shame on Missouri indeed.

    Those categories do nothing but look pretty on paper. They offer nothing more than forced starvation of kids. Why? To prevent obesity, of course. Those on the committee should be ashamed of the guidelines they're promoting as 'healthful' and 'healthier'. They guidelines are not only disgusting in their lack of foresight to unintended consequences, they're going to harm kids!

  3. God the menus in Columbia look totally disgusting. They expect kids to eat that crud?

  4. This is what we have been feeding prison inmates for years. Makes them sick.

  5. Joyce6:20 PM

    Smucker's PBJ Uncrustable, Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Pretzels, Rice Krispie Treat, 1% cholocate milk, baby carrots and a fruit

    How in good conscience they can consider that an acceptable lunch is beyond me. It's crazy what they're touting as healthy and good while continuing to scare everyone about fat.

  6. Anonymous9:41 PM

    It's interesting that we had less obesity when they would serve "chicken fried steak", cutlets with real breading (non-soy) and smothered in full-fat gravy; this goes back 40 or so years, but I still remember the taste. Full-fat milk, butter, the whole rogue's gallery of high-fat (delicious) foods.

    Yes, we also had a lot of garbage, but we also went out and played outside, and no one sued the school if we played like monkeys on the monkey bars and fell off, and we played tag and dodgeball and other horrid games. But we were thinner than today's kids fed all this supposedly nutritious stuff (that is not).

  7. It's the same with restaurant meals for kids. Corn dogs, burgers or chicken nuggets with french fries and pudding. No decent veggies, no real meat. Just junk. I have yet to see a decent kids' meal in a restaurant.

    Parents need to speak out and demand decent food for their kids. Better yet, start sending a brown bag lunch, stop paying for the junk the school serves. Sadly, though, a lot of kids get free lunch at school, and don't have an option but to eat what's served to them.

  8. Thank you for posting about this. I live in missouri and had no idea how bad the school lunches really are. It's easy to think that because we have these guidelines, that they've helped to improve the lunches, but it's pretty clear they're not doing much. Who seriously thinks an uncrustable is an acceptable lunch?

    What I am really more concerned about is how much soy they're feeding our kids. it's not like I think it's bad, but I don't want my kids eating it all the time!

    I had no idea that many of the main dishes were not really just beef or just chicken. That we parents aren't told that something like the tacos aren't beef is, as you said, deceptive.

    I left comments that I think before they go making limits on fat stronger, they should seriously get cracking on what is being served and make that a priority!

  9. Anonymous2:56 PM

    Spaghetti sandwich with a side of fries please. =:-o

  10. It is heresy to question the dogma that low fat, high fiber = good nutrition. Don't check it out. Just take the word of the experts on faith. :)

    I live in Texas, but, after seeing the junk in school lunch and reading my kids' health books, we're not any better.

  11. Anonymous9:25 AM

    I left those big bugs in Misory for the desert dry heat..LOL anyone ever think maybe its all just for population control?

  12. Anonymous9:27 PM

    OMG! child abuse nothing but child abuse the entire lot of them should be jailed never to be released for subjecting children to that rubbish in the name of 'whats good for you' & 'we care'. no wonder kids are so sick these days it doesn't take Einstein to work out why. along with the jail sentence each medical person who recommends low fat high carb plus the toxin soy to be fed to children or anyone for that matter should also never ever be allowed to practice medicine again. even vets know better than to feed soy to animals - makes them ill in one life time & strile within 3 generations - maybe that is their grand plan - what a bunch of idiots.