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What's up with school lunch?

January 31, 2012 - Kristy MacKaben
What the heck is a spaghetti taco? I guess it's pretty self explanatory, huh? More importantly, who thought that was a great idea to shovel a heap of mushy spaghetti onto a greasy taco shell and serve it to kids in the Altoona Area School District? I had to laugh when I saw that abomination on the school menu. Thankfully, Julie has never once begged to buy lunch on "spaghetti taco day", but I know our neighbors' son loves the tasty creation. I understand that school districts are strapped for cash, but I really wish they would be more mindful about what they serve our kids. One day Julie came home from school and informed me she ate cereal, a cheese stick and a tootsie roll for lunch. Nowhere on the menu did I see that little combo. I still don't know whether the tootsie roll was a Halloween treat that day, or just a figment of Julie's imagination. School lunches have improved a little bit, it seems, since I went to school in Baltimore. They always serve fruit or vegetables (though they are of the canned variety) and occasionally there's a random somewhat healthy meal like chicken with rice and vegetables. But, school lunches have a long way to go until I feel comfortable allowing my kids to buy most days of the week. Chicken patties, pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs are the norm. Luckily, the USDA released new guidelines for school lunches requiring more fruits, vegetables and whole grains be served, and setting limits on trans fat and salt. This is a sticky situation for school districts who try to provide affordable school lunches that kids will actually eat, all the while working within the limits of state and federal funding. That's why the government needs to put a higher priority on feeding children nutritious meals. This means more money for schools, for which I'm always lobbying as a daughter of two educators. In the meantime, please refrain from serving spagetti and tacos on the same plate.


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