My own children's school has switched to the Jamie Oliver menu along with a salad bar but still has a traditional menu - of greasy, salty rubbish. The Oliver menu is good, the rational fare is pizza, fries, chicken fingers, hot dogs and burgers. Ironically - tragically - that menu is designed by an actual nutritionist. Really?
So we brown bag it and allow a pizza lunch with salad bar once a month. The kids love the brown bag lunches -- it's all they've known and any fruits or vegetables they don't eat at school they bring home, and eat for dinner. I don't know how long that kind of honesty will last but it works for now!
The Los Angeles School District implemented a new regime in their schools' cafeterias by eliminating all the fast food choices and focusing on healthy fare including fruits, vegetables, salads and entrees like vegetable curries, lentils and brown rice and leaner sources of protein.
Since this implementation, the schools have noticed a huge increase in food waste, with whole trays of lunches being thrown out and students saying they are suffering from general ill-health due to the new menu, including headaches and stomach pain. Rather than eat the new menu choices, students instead elected to buy burgers, fast food, pop and candy that is being sold on the down-low by other students.
The schools have now done an about-face and have brought back in pizza, burgers and the old fare that has been instrumental in increasing obesity in American children. But the pizza will contain low fat cheese and low sodium sauce.
Perhaps serving the "old fare" in a healthier way is the better option. Burgers on whole grain buns and healthier toppings, salads with low fat dressings, all beef, lower sodium hotdogs and healthy yogurts for dessert.
School children will not want to suddenly start eating healthier , more "exotic" style foods that are totally foreign to them. But they will gradually get used to their own style of foods that are slowly and quietly made in a better, healthier way. Non-"all-American" foods can then be slowly introduced.
What do you think of school lunches?