Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Public Comment Open at USDA

Last week, in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, an article revealed some
shocking school breakfast and lunch options: "Pop-Tarts and doughnuts
for breakfast for 2-year-olds. Rolls, chicken nuggets and French fries for
school lunches. Brownies given the same nutritional value as a slice of
whole-wheat bread."

This struck a chord with me since I recently posted on my blog about
the dismal lunches served in the Columbia Public Schools in Missouri.
One particularly disturbing lunch option - Smucker’s PBJ Uncrustable,
Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Pretzels, Rice Krispie Treat, 1% cholocate
milk, baby carrots and a fruit - is offered daily to students throughout the

With 789-calories, the school's website highlights that the lunch contains
23g of protein (92-calories) and just 24% fat (189-calories; 21g); no
mention that this means the lunch also contains 508-calories from
carbohydrate (127g), or the equivalent of 32-teaspoons of sugar in a child's metabolism...not to mention if a parent packed such a lunch for their
child each day, they'd be branded as irresponsible and lending a hand
to the epidemic of childhood obesity!

With school back in session across many states, it seems we have a
pattern that shows school lunches are not as healthful as we're led to

Senatobia, Mississippi: Chicken Nuggets or BBQ Rib Sandwich, Mashed
Potatoes w/Gravy, Cheesy Broccoli, Hot Cinnamon Apples, Fruit Juice,
Yeast Roll, Gelatin. (assorted milk)

Randolph, Massachusetts: Nachos with cheese, beef, onion, tomato and
sour cream and fruit. (assorted milk)

Roff, Oklahoma: Corndog, tator tots, black-eyed peas, chocolate pudding
and milk.

Whittier, Massachusetts: Choice of Domino's of french bread pizza, small
salad, pretzel, assorted fruit. (assorted milk)

Folsom, New Jersey: Nachos with cheese or Smucker's PB&J, vegetable,
fruit and milk.

Ada, Oklahoma: Frito chili pie with cheese, green beans, garden salad,
rosy applesauce, salad bar and milk.

Benton, Arkansas: Pizza, corn, salad, half an orange, milk

Nachos, pizza, chicken nuggets, corndogs, frito chili pie....what is frito
chili pie anyway? And why are we not disturbed by these school lunches
offered to our kids each day?

Amazingly, each and every one of these lunches meet the minimum
standards for school lunches established by the USDA.

Which begs the question - how do we go about improving the minimum
standards for school lunches?

It turns out the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 is
up for review and revision in 2009, and you can provide comments about
ways to improve the school lunch program by either testifying at an
upcoming USDA Listening Session, or submit written comments online
or via mail.

If you'd like to submit comments online, you may at the Public Comment and Submission page.

If for some reason the above link fails to take you to the page for public
comment, the Docket ID is FNS-2008-0011 and the Docket Title is
Request for Public Comments for Use in Preparing for 2009
Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Programs and WIC.

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