As everyone with eyes for seeing and minds for judging can attest, kids today — like their bloated adult counterparts — are fat, Fatty McFat Fats, bursting at the seams with sodium, grease, and trans fat sludge.
These are just the cold, unbiased facts. In a bid to stem the unending flow of fat into the youth’s bodies (and out of their waistbands), New York public schools have been recalibrating school meals, swapping in healthier options like baked potato strips for french fries and turkey bacon for pig bacon.
These sound like reasonable, totally natural changes, right? Unfortunately, taking out all the bacon fat and fryer grease actually brought New York’s school lunches under federally regulated calorie counts.
You might even say Mayor “Soda Ban Nanny State” Bloomberg has been starving our children!
Or, if you’re like Eric S. Goldstein of the New York City Education Department, you’d say, “Our mentality is to feed food to children, not nutrients to astronauts.”
This school of dietary thought does have a good amount of backing among experts, and federal guidelines will soon adjust to lower required calorie counts in school lunches, and to install maximums for the first time ever. One UCLA professor told the Times, “There’s been an excess of focus on trying to get the right number of calories. The calories will take care of themselves if we get kids to make better food choices such as filling half their plate with vegetables.”
Others would point out that while obesity is rampant among American children, so is hunger and food instability. Joel Berg, the New York City Coalition Against Hunger’s executive director slammed the lower-calorie lunches as “reckless,” saying, “It is based on politics and personal whims, not nutrition science. It is based on the city’s absurd belief that hunger no longer exists among children […] The city’s one and only response to child hunger is taking food away from kids.”
For now, chefs hired by the city are busy fine-tuning menus to get them in line with federal regulations, while presumably keeping an eye to the anti-obesity policies that have seen obesity among the city’s students drop by 5.5% in the past five years.
We eagerly await the emergence of video depicting teary-eyed students forced to do jumping jacks in the classroom while reciting math equations or whatever it is they’ve been learning.
That, or an achievement of healthy balance and a generally more sane national outlook on diet. It’s flexible.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.