School lunch complaints

Some students are protesting a new federal law that sets limits on the calories that the meals should contain and requires more fresh fruits and vegetables as part of the menu. (Warning: That link has a photo showing Michelle Obama with bare arms, which some find offensive.)

I rarely pulled the “think of all the starving children in India” gambit when trying to persuade my own children to not complain about or waste food, but I do think that these students have no idea how fortunate they are that they live in a country in which the government can afford to give them a free and nutritious meal each day, sometimes more than one.

The Daily Show talks about the protest.

And of course, we know who caused this problem. It is that bare-armed, short-wearing, athletic menace to society, Michelle Obama.

(These clips appeared on September 27, 2012. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)


  1. says

    On the other hand…

    Look, I think you’re coming from a good place. On the other hand, if you are a poor kid who doesn’t get breakfast or a good dinner, you might depend on maximum calories for lunch every day. It might feel really clever to offer kids low-calorie/high-nutrient meals for lunch, if they are already calorie-deficient then they might wish people were just a little less clever.

  2. says

    There really isn’t a limit on the calories. It’s my understanding that they can get as many seconds on fruits and veggies that they want. They just can’t get, say, seconds on the hamburger or pizza.

    The problem is not that the children are starving, but that they are throwing away the good food and complaining that they aren’t being given enough food to eat.

    This isn’t a simple problem though, because since many of these families aren’t expecting their children to eat good food, the pallets of the children are so geared toward high sugar/high salt foods that, to the children, the good food tastes disgusting.

    I have met more than one person who, point blank, does not eat fruits and vegetables, at all. It’s not always an easy transition for some.

  3. Anonymous Atheist says

    FYI, poor kids generally can also get a free breakfast at school. (Also, FYI for Mano, the lunch is likewise only free for kids from sufficiently poor families; for other kids, I think it’s somewhere around $2 now.)

  4. brucegee1962 says

    Stewart is awesome at pointing out when other people adopt two positions completely opposite to each other, depending on political affiliation. However, there isn’t anyone around to point out when Stewart himself does this — quis custodet ipse custodes and all.

    A few months ago when the politicians in NYC were trying to do something about obesity by banning large drinks, he was all over them for their assault on free choice. Now that it’s Michelle Obama, though, he leaps to her defense. I found myself wanting somebody to play the two clips side by side so I could see the dueling rationalizations coming out of the same mouth. Somebody like, well, Jon Stewart.

  5. says

    … if they show up on time. If they ride the school bus, they often show up too late for breakfast. I’m sure you feel clever finding new ways to justify starving poor children, but it doesn’t make you look good to the rest of us.

  6. mas528 says

    I think it is hilarious that you even said that!

    You do realize that there is a difference in banning how much soda I can buy and giving someone cheap or free food , right?

    Michelle Obama can only advocate for awareness and better meals. She is *not* a lawmaker in any way shape or form.

    The Mayor is a law maker.

    Not to mention the windwall it would create for the soda companies and fast food joints, which is the real reason for the “ban”

    Anyway, enjoy. .

  7. Juli says

    I caught the bus every year of my formal schooling and I always made it in time to get breakfast to get at school. Granted, my bus in ninth grade literally came at 6am, despite school starting at 8:20, but we arrived between 7:45 and 7:50, giving us ample time to get breakfast.

  8. Juli says

    There’s a huge difference between telling adults what they can do with their money and telling schools what they can do with tax money.

  9. says

    You forget that they have cut EVERYTHING over the last decade+. There are fewer buses, less cafeteria workers, etc. I guess it makes you feel better, Juli, to crap on children instead of trying to feel for them, or put yourself in their shoes.

    Feel free to be angry with adults. It still makes you a bad person, but you can pretend you’re justified. But when you decide to crap on kids? You can’t ever justify or excuse that. You’re just being a sociopath,

  10. Anonymouse says

    My kids’ school buses (1 high school, 1 middle school) get them at school in plenty of time to buy breakfast, if they want it. They rarely want it because in my state, school breakfast is just empty-calorie garbage.

  11. Anonymouse says

    Yes, Jon Stewart pointed out that the kids are free to get seconds on fruits and vegetables, so there’s no excuse for them saying they’re hungry. If they’re not getting any instruction on nutrition at home, it’s good that they’re getting it at school.

  12. machintelligence says

    It is doubtless a good idea to provide healthy lunches, but what is the food value of something that ends up in the trash can? Unless there is a way to convince the kids that the fruits and vegetables are something to be desired it does little more than make the nutritionists feel like they are accomplishing something. I suppose offering them no choices so that they will be hungry if they don’t eat them qualifies, but seems like a brute force solution.
    I am reminded of a an instant challenge problem that one of my Destination Imagination teams faced: Come up with an advertising slogan for a new vegetable — Iccum Pods. They were supposed to be wonderfully nutritious, but tasted awful. Their solution was “Iccum Pods — EEEEYUCK THEY’RE GOOD!”

  13. Kimpatsu says

    That link has a photo showing Michelle Obama with bare arms, which some find offensive.
    But Americans have the right to bare arms!

  14. M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati says

    The “iccum pods” example is a totally legitimate and realistic example. Because it’s not like advertising spends sufficient millions of dollars to drive the point home — instructors must voluntarily (and for free!) back up the corporate message: healthy = disgusting! I mean, that’s real creativity: take for granted all the assumptions that advertisers want you to take for granted, then demonstrate the futility of supporting a policy orientation other than the advertiser-supported one; genius!

  15. says

    have you ever tasted school food? YUCK!
    but if you are from an impoverished family, the taste does not matter, only the quantity.
    ANG be aware when the govt wants to do something for you. It always has strings attached.
    Also be aware the govt is coming up with all sorts of programs to control the food. (if you control the food, you control the people)
    Have you heard of NAIS? (national animal id system.) Currently the USDA program is on hold due to the outcry from those it would affect, but has gone underground. You can see no nais videos on youtube.
    Imagine having to register with the govt because you own a horse, cow, pig, goat, chicken, etc, and file a report to the the govt every place you go with your animal, when it is born and when it dies. Just so corporate ag (factory farms) can tell the Japanese they are buying safe US beef and pork. Corporate ag does not have to follow those rules, by the way.
    I know I am beginning to sound like a conspiracy theorist but I spent years researching, calling officials in many states and read the document and it was going to happen in 2006. But those who owned animals -and not many knew about it- protested and downright refused to comply.
    Just to show you that the USDA is not our friend and how they treat private citizens, do a google search on raw milk raids, Dollarhite rabbits, mad sheep. And pay a visit to nonais dot org to find out more about the proposed govt controls on our freedoms.

  16. TGAP Dad says

    I wondered how long it would take the conspiracy nuts to chime in.
    By the way, raw milk is a bad idea, and a hazard to public health. It’s also clearly within the jurisdiction of the USDA. And by the way, if anyone else sells raw milk illegally, even if it’s only an expired permit, I hope the USDA busts them as well. I’m thankful we have at least one government agency left to protect consumers, even if it’s only that one small market segment.

  17. lorn says

    Given the girth of the kids I’ve seen, I live down here in the deep south where obesity of pretty much the norm, I don’t think many of them are lacking for calories. If the student athletes are starving, I seriously doubt it, more likely they were used to eating like pigs at at an all-you-can-eat trough and are disappointed that someone set some boundaries, the team boosters can buy some protein bars.

    The whole issues stinks of political opportunism and spin trying to make what is essentially a sound plan to help improve the health of the children, a plan that might need a few rare exceptions made and slight tweaking, look like an overreaching tyranny.

  18. Jared A says

    Joe, you might want to look into actual child-policy and food-policy before you start rage-flaming. If there are problems with this policy they are not the first obvious thing that comes to your mind.

    The public policy experts that I know tell me that the health risks for kids on the school lunch program runs much more strongly towards malnourishment rather than starvation. That is, they are getting enough calories but not enough nutrients. (You can be overweight and still malnourished). Good policy comes from making decisions based on facts–considerations like efficacy, procedural changes, enforcement and implementation feasability, and cost-benefit analysis. Not vague “could-be”s and anecdotes.

  19. Jared A says

    Certainly one should worry about what actually gets eaten, but I don’t the actual data look like.

    So is the point of your Iccum analogy that if you prime children to believe something by choosing the boundary conditions properly then they won’t question it. Seems like all you are showing is how easy it is to indoctrinate children. In that case it should be trivial to change their eating habits.

    I agree with M. What kind a terrible challenge for children that forces them to accept a subjective fact “something tastes awful” to be treated as the central objective fact they must accept in order to participate? I hated being railroaded like that as a kid.


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