We live in a fantastic neighborhood, with some of the best schools in the state. With our daughter just finishing her first year of school in the public schools, I have very few complaints, if any, about her school and the administrators and teachers. One thing that I have yet to experience however, is her eating school lunches. As a kindergartener, she only attended school a half day and never had to eat lunch at school. Next year though, will be a different story.
She’ll be starting 1st grade in August and she’ll be in school all day. That means she’ll have the option of eating a hot or cold lunch served by the school, or bringing her own lunch. It’s kind of a given that I’ll be sending her to school with a healthy, non-GMO, homemade lunch each day. I can’t control a lot of things in life, but the things I feed my children is certainly one of them and I’m not giving up control on that one, for a bunch of reasons, but here’s my top 8 reasons why my kids will say no to school lunches…
1. The Obvious- School lunches will undoubtedly contain GMOs. It’s expensive, time consuming and there are too many people who just don’t know about GMOs. Hopefully people like you will help by sharing articles like this. You are the best person to help spread the word about GMOs. Share this!
2. School Lunches Aren’t (usually) Organic- Most schools can’t afford to buy and serve organic foods in their cafeterias.
3. Serving Plates and Trays- School lunches are often served on trays and plates made with PVC, BPAs and other unhealthy, toxic chemicals. I don’t want my kids eating spaghetti served on a foam plate where it sat melting the chemicals from the tray into the food.
4. Cans, Cans, Cans- Feeding the masses requires food often stored and shipped in cans. Those canned peaches, tomatoes and green beans have been sitting in cans that are lined with BPA. Why BPA hasn’t been banned from food containers is a horrible mystery to me. But that’s a whole other blog post.
5. Microwaves- I’m not a huge fan of the microwave. I love it’s convenience, but let’s face it- they aren’t good for your food. Microwaves zap the nutrients right out of food and schools often have to use microwaves to get food hot, fast. Even worse, a lot of the food is microwaved in unhealthy containers (I stick to glass when I use the microwave) and the chemicals in containers like plastic and foam leech into the food when heated.
6. Too Many Choices- As much as I educate my kids on making healthy choices, when it comes down to it, if you put a piece of pizza and french fries and a salad and grilled chicken in front of her, my 6 year old will most likely choose the pizza and fries. Schools like ours have been really good at offering healthier options to kids, but nine times out of ten, they’re going to choose the option that isn’t healthier. They need to eliminate things like french fries and hot dogs and only offer healthier options- not giving them a choice between unhealthy and healthy might be the best way to go.
7. Nitrates! – Oh my gosh, I’m terrified of nitrates. There’s so many studies on nitrates and the damaging effects they can have, especially on children. Nitrates are a food preservative that can form carcinogens – especially when mixed with things like fat and heat that can change the formation of the chemicals. Things like hot dogs, lunch meat, sausage, and bacon are loaded with nitrates that can have devastating effects on a child. They’ve even recently completed a studies on nitrates that shows that kids who were fed more than 12 hotdogs a month had 9 times the risk of developing childhood leukemia! Nitrates have been linked with increased risk of stomach problems, heart disease, and a variety of cancers and the hot dogs, sausages and lunch meat in schools almost always has nitrates- it’s cheaper and it makes food last longer. No thanks.
8. Carrageenan- This controversial chemical is lurking in all kinds of foods from chocolate milk, to cottage cheese, to ice cream, to yogurt and more. Read more about carrageeenan and why it might be making you sick. I don’t feed this to my kids, and I definitely don’t want the schools feeding it to them either.
I know I can’t protect my kids from everything, and I know they’ll eat hot dogs with nitrates at times and eat off of styrofoam containers from time to time, but by packing their school lunches, I know what they’re eating and I know that it’s healthy. I’ve even found some great containers for packing lunch in. I’ll be packing lunches in these awesome ECOlunchboxes. They’re free of PVC, BPA and work great for school lunches. If you buy them before June 30th, you can save 20% when you buy two ECOlunchbox stainless steel trays at ecomom!
And let me add a side note – I think that the majority of schools out there are working to make school lunches better and healthier for kids. I know our school district has made huge strides in offering better options for our kids, and I commend them for that. But I fear it will be a long time before schools are willing and able to offer non-GMO, organic, safer lunches for our kids. It will take people like us to make efforts towards eliminating these things from school lunches.
If you’re looking to go beyond just packing your kid’s healthier lunches and work towards helping schools offer better choices for our kids, check out the Organic Consumer’s Association’s Appetite For a Change for some great ideas on helping schools incorporate healthier lunches. They offer tips, advice and some really good resources on helping schools make lunches healthier and safer for kids.