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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Hold That Bag

I finished up my "everything" bagel while reading in the paper (yes, the "paper") about a study of children's lunches performed in Houston by "researchers." The story failed to mention who these "researchers" were or who paid for their ever-so-thorough examination of 337 children's lunches. Any guesses? 
Paragraph after paragraph reported how many cups and ounces of fruit, vegetables, grains, meat, dessert, soda and a partridge in a pear tree-- nope, wrong holiday-- appeared in lunches the children brought from home versus lunches sold in the school cafeteria. They found that miscreant parents gave their kids lots more sodium and fewer Brussels sprouts than the lunch ladies did. Imagine parents failing to meet federal guidelines! The nerve! And kids throw some of their lunches away, so they don't get all the calories the parents pack. And how much of those goose-stepping, guidelined institutional lunches is thrown away? Huh. It wasn't mentioned. 
But the last paragraph made me spew my half-caff, fresh-ground coffee. "Now that schools have improved the quality of lunches they serve, it's time for policymakers to turn their attention to parents and others who pack lunches at home, the researchers concluded." Excuse me? We've already heard of at least one child having her home lunch confiscated at school. What's next? Inspection of home kitchens? Government-approved shopping lists? Brown bags treated as contraband? I wonder how the reporter wrote that last bit with a straight face. I think I might have have made it the lead, something about government tentacles and their never-ending reach. Time to chop them off with a freshly-sharpened chef's knife.  


  1. I sent this in email to the reporter: Your piece in Orlando Sentinel about school lunch research left me with some questions. Who were these "researchers?" Who paid for the study? How much of school-prepared lunches is thrown away? Would it not be a gross overreach of government power to "turn their attention to parents and others who pack lunches at home"?
    Here's the answer I got:Thanks for writing. The story I wrote was in error -- the tables comparing the national school lunch standards and the actual amounts packed at home used WEEKLY amounts for the national standards and only DAILY amounts for the home lunches. I missed the footnote that explained this. The story has been corrected. The home lunches still fall short in many respects.
    Which ignores my questions completely. My journo profs would have failed her.