Q&A: Why is the School Starving my Kid?

There's been so much conversation and controversy about the USDA regulations and school lunch, I thought I would chime in to answer the following question I've heard a lot:

Why is the school starving my kid?
Before parents go on a tirade (which a lot have been, just read the news and comments on-line) on this topic, I have a couple of questions.
  1. What is your child eating for breakfast? Are they even eating breakfast? Breakfast is often overlooked by kids and adults. It's critical to start one's day with the right kind of breakfast because it provides steady energy to stay focused and be awake. Equally important is that eating the right kind of breakfast will keep one's blood sugar stable which is crucial for steady moods, and again, steady energy.  If you or your kids are extremely tired within a couple hours of being awake, yes it could be that you didn't get enough sleep the night before. But if you're getting sleep, then double check on breakfast.
  2. What are you feeding your kids in general? If you're feeding your kids highly processed foods on a regular basis and they are not eating vegetables and fruits regularly, it will be much tougher to get  them to eat what's being offered at lunch, unless they pack their own and bring it.  If a child/teenager chooses to take all items offered at lunch, there is no way they will still be starving afterward.  
Make no mistake, it starts at home. How parents teach their kids about food, and the food they choose to serve, play a huge influence how a child's eating patterns are shaped. Of course kids have their own taste buds, I have no illusions about that, but it's critical to get them conditioned at the earliest age possible. 
When it comes to snacks, there are simple, cost effective solutions parents can provide for their kids. Sure, food companies are happy to offer items to crank kids up, and take parents money. Consider alternatives such as home made breakfast bars/cookies, cut up fruits, vegetables, dehydrated fruits,  or jerky.
Some schools provide snacks, too. If yours does not, (or if it does and you'd like to see better options) join your school's  PTA/PTO and voice your concerns, opinions, and desires for supporting your child's school experience. Schools want input and leadership from parents. Wellness policies, of which this would be a component, are implemented with the help of parent involvement.  
Photo credit: Opensourceway

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