But on a serious note, directed at the media woohoo that always ensues, demanding better food for schools Jamie Oliver style misses the constraint of a limited budget. Presumably there's some price/utility tradeoff between the cost of the food and the health/taste.
Then there's a tradeoff between teacher quality and wages, school size and the number of teachers you must hire, etc. What we should be asking is whether the nutritional value outweighs wherever else the money would be spent. Maybe it is, maybe it's not, but 'oh the school is shamed' is a little much.
Edit: of course the other discussion to have is whether there is a tradeoff between cost and health (including additional cooks needed to produce healthier food on a large scale). But I don't see this in most media discussions either.
I cannot imagine a future in which they do not look back and think "Food was cheaper in their age than at any point before or since, but they fed their children worse than cattle. How could a school have computers but no fruit?".
The intent of communism (esp. with the abolition of the state) is not, contrary to many views, some evil dictatorial master plan, but simply to put social power back into the hands of the people, allowing the existence and implementation of real social priorities, such as child nutrition.
I don't know about that! I have plenty of Politics in my life without it needing every fibre of my life to be infused with it, thank you very much. Rather, I shall go into the office tomorrow and go about business with Ron Paul supporters and Occupy SF supporters alike, and sip espresso with them in the afternoon, and I think there's something fundamentally humanizing about being able to do that.
But then, I guess that's a classic divide, as I recently saw evidenced in this opinion piece: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405270230437150457740... on the fundamental differences in the outlook on life as evidenced by commencement speeches delivered by Barack Obama and by Mitt Romney.
The claim is that "politics" as a social activity separate from universal, daily human life is artificial and an accident of modern society. That is, in the Marxian ideal you would never think "politics in my life"—that distinction between "politics" and "my life" would be a meaningless concept, since "politics" would be a nonexistent concept. You are already an inherently social being, and politics is just a particular abstraction of that sociality which seems like a good idea in modern society but prevents an "ideal" society (for many formulations of "ideal").
Think about it this way: when you vote, you are acting socially through politics. When you perform a business transaction, you are acting socially through economics. When you go to work (or leisure) with people of different opinions, you are acting socially in a way that we generally just describe as social. All these things are inherently intertwined, but modern society has done a good job making them seem separate and distinct; it has invented terms to distinguish the first two types of social activity, and has imposed rules on them. The third example doesn't have another word because it isn't consciously regulated by society—there is no abstraction for day-to-day interactions with other people. Thus, a Marxian ideal sees no abstraction for any other types of interactions with other people. They all collapsed into one: there is no politics or economics, which are abstractions of sociality.
I'm not proposing any particular change in modern society that would bring politics "into" your life, merely presenting a way of thinking about politics and sociality that explains why child nutrition (and numerous other social problems) are not also political problems.
These sort of things serve a perfect mess for bribe business and other sort of bureaucratic shit.
Also like so many people have mentioned, its not governments job to provide food to your kid. In fact I find it scary that governments run and set school syllabus. Schools and education form perfect weapons for brain washing. Ideally schools must be private run, with regulations.
I beg to differ. I'm French. Not everything about our government is satisfactory (very far from it) but the one thing that's fantastic is the food in our schools: fixed menus (no pick and choose where kids would take fries and nothing else), with real meals of two main courses + cheese + desert (usually fruit).
And it shows, too; while children's obesity rates have been getting worse, they are nowhere near those in the US or UK. In fact there are virtually no fat kids under 12; after that age kids tend to be more "autonomous" (meaning more TV and more fast food lunches) but when they're young and in the school system they are incredibly healthy.
For instance Jewish kids whose families want them to eat kosher food, or kids with various food allergies, etc.
Now things have changed a little; you can specify that your kid doesn't eat pork or is allergic to nuts -- but that's about it.
"If parents don't see child nutrition as a priority, their priority list needs to be burned to the ground. Are we honestly expected to believe that a first world nation's family can't find room in the budget to give their own children vegetables and prepare food for them ?"
Since when is the political system responsible of what your children should or should not eat ? Is that even the role of the political system? And if your answer is "Yes", where does that involvment in private affairs stop ?
Well yes, it is sad but true that a first world country, in spite of its wealth, can be home to very poor families.
Of course bad nutrition is also a cultural problem, there are many parents that could do a better job at feeding their children. But how would you address this cultural issue without some kind of government intervention? Doing nothing but blaming the parents doesn't help much.
No one is denying the right of parents to provide food for their children. But when, as an option, food is provided by the state (such as in state schools), it should be a priority to get the menus right.
To answer your question, I don't think there is any private matter that is completely beyond the scope of government. What is more private than our sexual lives? Yet I'm happy that the government runs information campaigns on STD prevention. On the other hand, I do think that coercive powers should be severely restricted.
I don't understand why whenever this is an issue in society, it becomes something that the government has to go and fix. In the not so distant past, (let's say, at least up until the early 1950s), a number of problems were adressed by private (as in, non-governmental) initiatives (from profit and non-profit organizations, or simply community, family support). Now, we expect government to take care of everything. There seems to be no space for other solutions. Private initiatives seem to have completely disappeared from most people's mindset. This kind of mindset is even pervasive in the economical system where many people now believe it is the role of Government to "stimulate" the Economy. As if, the Economy was a "by-product" of government intervention!
I DO think there are clear limits between government scope and private scope, and in most modern countries this is something that the Constitution usually clarifies. You find that such limits are usually lacking in countries which tend to turn to despotism and dictatorship. When you break these boundaries, you end up (after a while, step by step...) with governments suppressing freedom of speech and telling people how they have to think. That is exactly why there are several Privacy Advocate groups which pay a lot of attention to this kind of issues.
So why should the government get involved? Let's look at the case of school meals. Many parents want them but it's not provided by the state school, so parents will team up to make it happen privately. This means negotiating with the school for access to a building on the premises, forming a committee to organize the whole thing (so having elections at periodic intervals to appoint the committee), hiring cooks, cleaners, security, etc., setting up a system for collecting money from parents, and finally establishing a process for decisions such as what to put on the menu.
We basically end up with a small task-specific government with its own laws (such as how decisions are made and how people are elected to the committee). So not only is it redundant with other local (e.g. city) governments, it also increases the complexity of everyone's life dramatically, as you have to deal with the public government plus all the private organizations, each with their own quirks.
This is why I view politics as a generic platform for debate on societal issues, and government as a framework for taking and implementing decisions. For this to be efficient it is important to have strong local governments at several levels (e.g. city, state, country) and choose wisely their respective prerogatives, such as city level for school meals, state level for school programs and country level for school certification. That does not mean there is no room for private initiatives, it just illustrates why government involvement could be a good option, sometimes.
As for the Constitution stuff, there's no question that a government should be monitored carefully and have limited powers (e.g. cannot force children to eat school meals), but this is different from saying it cannot offer school meals.
Healthier food isn't tasty either. But our brain perceives anything non tasty as unhealthy.
That's where things get messed up. Healthy + tasty food is actually expensive.
My son now gets his food at school - while it's nice that we don't need to prepare his lunch beforehand, I'd much much rather have my school district's food-related costs be used towards teachers and learning.
I have prepared lunch for my son when he was in elementary, it is not a hard thing to do.
For some kids, a school meal might be the only thing they eat, or the largest meal of the day.
Besides, I hear this argument often but I don't buy in the "finance" issue to get good food. Getting veggies/rice is cheap enough and can be cooked pretty fast. You don't need meat 3 times a day to be healthy. Just 60 years ago, people were eating 10 times less meat than now and they had no issue becoming smart (and probably smarter than now, seeing the extremely poor achievements of school education nowadays).
Basically lunches in School is an extension of the School system: you ensure people have to rely on you, everyday. This is toxic in so many ways. Kids never learn what it takes to prepare food, because they never see their Mom/Dad prepare food for them. It makes them value food as a commodity. It also "breaks" another link between parents and children, since you rely on a separate organization to feed your own kids, on which you have little knowledge and control.
Seriously, providing lunches at school is just a broken solution to the broken culture problem you mention. It does not fix anything, and provides comfort that it's OK to be part of that "broken culture". It just makes things worse in the end.
Once thing looking back I think we should have had, access to a fridge and microwave, would have allowed for more options and given kids a bit more responsibility.
Healthy food is not pricier unless you get fancy. Legumes, quinoa, and vegetables aren't more expensive (though they do have smaller margins!) than the crap that they had been serving previously.
Also to consider is the cost of a skilled laborer -- someone who can actually cook -- versus a minimum wage worker who only needs to unwrap a package, press a button, and plate it.
But I was thinking, here, of quinoa prepared in a rice cooker (comparable in difficulty to microwaving a burrito), salad, and pre-made vegetarian chili. There's no way the total cost of this is higher than calorie-equivalent microwave mexican fare.
E.g., Costco organic quinoa is about 700 kCalories/USD (plus 25g protein, 15g dietary fibre). Given a big enough rice cooker, I could teach any minimum wage employee how to spend 30 minutes and prepare quinoa enough to feed a school of 6000 for around a dollar per student. With another 30 minutes I could even make it palatable.
Microwaving corn on the cob is pretty much as low effort as it gets.
Go inside a small kitchen at 4pm or so and watch the amount of effort it takes to even chop onions in preparation for dinner service.
If you are worried about healthy meals, you probably don't put butter on it at all.
Are these constraints factoring in the long term health benefits & lower health costs?
 "Why is school food important?" ~ http://www.jamieoliver.com/school-dinners/
It's parent spending money on highly taxed cigarettes, sports clothes and lottery tickets then moaning that all they can feed their kids is processed shit.
Ban cigarettes entirely, stop the lottery and give benefit claimants vouchers rather than cash and health problems will decline instantly.
This comes from experience working in schools (I do part time reading with primary school children). The unhealthy kids with poor education smell of cigarettes and are on benefits WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
It's the eternal debate between leaving your responsibility as a parent to feed your child and taking the matters in your hands. In Japan there are still a fairly high percentage of mothers (even working ones) who prepare meals for their kids going to school. That's caring.
1. She is a student using personal electronics on school property during school hours without permission. This is explicitly disallowed in the handbook she and her parents would have been compelled to sign. This is not about food - she broke the rules.
2. That's great that she wants to be a journalist, but you never know what's going to happen with children in possession of cameras. Sexting! Cyberbullying! Violation of privacy! And with the Internet these days... She is not old enough to appreciate the consequences of what can happen with cameras. Maybe in 11th or 12th grade she can join extracurriculars that introduce students to photography in an age-appropriate, supervised, and controlled environment.
As a matter of policy, the school recommends that parents who give their children smartphones use parental controls to disable the camera, restrict internet access to school-approved websites, and always monitor calls and text messages. If a child needs the Internet for research purposes, a parent should always sit next to the child and supervise.
3. All personal electronics are distractions and disrupt the learning environment.
These arguments play very well with the mainstream American media. In fact, the media makes these arguments all the time, probably more vigorously than school officials would.
This PR problem would have been trivial to crush had administration desired to crush it.
But some people require more than the standard to weigh them down. Like in Harrison Bergerson. And the only reason that they don't force extra work to match is that citizens would recognize the inherent unfairness and be offended that their children weren't thought worthy of extra work. So instead they paint it as a way to make your application look better to colleges. (Think hi-cap.)
Disclosure: I am in high school.
There's a pretty strong argument made that that is actually the case and its intentional, backed by actual history.
Have you read The Underground History of American Education? It's extremely interesting and well referenced. Read it free here, or get the print book on amazon if you like. http://johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm
I searched the web, but couldn't find another source for you. Sorry.
I think educational institutions attempt to shape young people in a way they imagine makes them contributing members of society.
At least, that was the starting point. What it has boiled down to (getting back to pandering to the lowest common denominator, the bad system structure in it's entirety and desire to spend the least amount of money + the fact that it's flipping hard to get kids to do what you want, ask a parent) is that they are now basically just hoping young people don't get into trouble. Just get through to college without ruining your life or the life of someone else, and hey.. maybe you'll even learn something.
This type of system doesn't breed the next Steve Jobs, but it probably does get a few extra kids of the street and maybe impart some knowledge.
Nothing is your post is overly dramatic or exaggerated in the least.
Everything said seems normal and logical for the schools I've encountered (and the local/regional/national media) to report, given their dispositions and previous conduct.
It's terrible that we would respond in such a way, rather than fixing our ways and feeding children a healthy lunch when they get the assisted lunch plan (this is often given to kids that honestly cannot afford other food, and may be their only real meal of the day).
My school dinners in the UK were cooked in a kitchen in the school by cooks my Mum knew, the veg and meat were bought locally and there was always meat and two veg except Fridays when there was fish. I quite liked them. I have fond memories of those chocolate brick puddings with the minty custard served from metallic effect jugs (60s we are talking).
The trouble started in the UK when they outsourced catering so the cook was not a school employee and did not live over the road. You began to get meals served from a central kitchen and produced as cheaply as possible using frozen veg/mechanically recovered meat. Budgets were low.
Good for this wain. You can get yourself excluded from a UK school for writing things on the Web, but school meals are a 'safe' area of dissent.
That was in the 1930s. Things have changed (I can walk down the road and get a reasonable South Indian curry in a cafe where UK Indian people go).
In my country(India), its a extremely far fetched thing to even assume that somebody can provide such good quality food for free in school. When I was in School around 12 years back, We would carry a lunch Tiffin packed at home, sometimes I would go completely hungry if my mom was in a hurry so some slip happened while making the Tiffin.
And yes, cakes, pastry, vegetables are all big things. My lunch used to be far more modest.
I hope someday in my country we would capable of providing this kind of facilities to kids.
The situation in India is certainly much worse than that in Great Britain, though. I really hope the country will be able to stem the tide of poverty, overpopulation, and corruption.
Google 'define dinner';
The main meal of the day, taken either around midday or in the evening.
>Today I have been sent lots of photos from America. This one was sent in by Kimberley who works in the Glenview school district, near Chicago, Illinois. Dad timed me to find Chicago on the globe and it took me 48 seconds but it was not fair as I was looking for it spelt SHicargo.
I hope I'm that kind of dad someday. Cheers to her father for the encouragement and for meeting with the school council. And of course cheers to Martha.
This is of course a mute point for this child as Scotland (for now, lets see how the independence referendum goes) is NHS (national health service) based.
And I agree, Jamie's Food Revolution has highlighted this issue very well. The poor attitude toward health seems universal however as one of the most poignant scenes in any of his shows is the one of UK parents passing deep fried fish and chips through the school fence at lunch time!
Scotland leans left, there's no way the NHS is going even if independence is granted.
This is sort of a nonsensical statement, as money is simply an external means by which to make such relative comparisons of value between things which are good. Perhaps you meant to assert the accumulation of savings is valued over health related expenditures? Debt levels would suggest otherwise.
Not savings, but purchasing power. Better?
Why is there no outrage that their children are being served slop?
Whatever the lunch menu says he is eating and the actual quality of the food served could differ in the extreme.
Practically the only way you could know this is if the school posted pictures of the actual lunches being served. (Like this kid did)
I commend your school for sending menus however, better than others I have heard of.
I don't get humans sometimes.
We pick on people that are different - not people that are better or worse. The quality of the food your children have is not why they're singled out.
Before: Pizza, Corn, Potato Chip, Cupcake
After: Pasta, Potato, Cake, Salad
It's clear he's helping with the tech aspect (i.e. number of hits), so he could be helping with editing/spelling/content too.
I don't see a problem with that.
How come fruits and salads are suddenly possible now when they were not before?
Portions have downsized to airline proportions...
There was some old post about school lunches over the world. Google finds me this: http://todayilearned.co.uk/2011/04/20/what-kids-of-the-world...
In this case I think the celebrity involvement helped, but really it was the father engaging the local government.
Obviously, that's just one program, and in just one city in just one country, but I thought it was pretty neat.
Making my son's lunch for him every morning might be the single greatest favor I do for him on a day to day basis.
If anything it shows the patchwork attitude and the total lack of pride, or care for quality, of the people involved.
This is something that seems systemic to the (western?) world though...
I looked through the pictures..didn't see any rice with maggots or anything terrible...
Did I miss a post?
Is this something to do with the portions or taste or time to eat?
(I'm quite serious, not trying to troll).
Whether that's because she choose odd things (and she is only 9, so maybe they should be helping her chose better) or because that's the only selection is open.
And if you want to read him, gutenberg has him (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/730).