Tuesday, November 27, 2007


It all started innocently enough, with a 4th-grader and a school lunch. Said 4th-grader was having the school's hot lunch that day--French Toast Stix [sic]--and mentioned to her mother that maple syrup was no longer served with this, um, lunch, thanks to the new "wellness" policy in our school district.

So Mom sent along the tail end of a bottle of maple syrup with 4th-grader. And Mom got a phone call the very next day, reminding her that it is not OK to send in maple syrup, which is now apparently considered a controlled substance in the lunchroom.

Of course, I can see why maple syrup would be banned from an elementary school lunchroom. It's way too unhealthy to be eaten by children. And it no doubt contributes to the Obesity Epidemic! Whereas serving deep-fried bread sticks--or stix--does not.

No less a personage than the principal herself got involved in Syrupgate, because there's nothing more important than our children's BMIs (I mean health).

It's the same ridiculous pseudo-reasoning that limits all children in elementary schools here to one and only one slice of pizza on pizza day. Have you ever seen an elementary-school-size slice of pizza? It wouldn't fill a rat's stomach for an hour, let alone the stomach of a growing child for the rest of the afternoon.

Two slices of pizza and a swig of maple syrup might satisfy the children's hunger . . . but it might also Make Them Fat. And we all know it's better to be hungry than to be fat, right?

At least in my town.


Anonymous said...

Mom should have sent organic walnut butter and clover honey.

Would have beat the hell out of the school "lunch".

Anonymous said...

The whole concept of if a food is healthy or not negates what I see to be the larger, more troubling issue. The school has taken its role of in loco parentis way too far, superceding parental decisions on what their child should and shouldn't eat. What's next? The school decides what medications your child should or should not be on?

vesta44 said...

Some schools have been doing that for years. It was the school who decided my son was hyperactive and needed Ritalin when he was 5 years old (this was a kid who could lay on the couch for hours reading books). My son is 32 now, and he still can't sit still unless he's reading or playing video games. Go figure. But yeah, they sure think they know more than parents about what is best for kids. Not even close, no cigar, sorry.

Anonymous said...

My question: Are they also going to send bodyguards home with all the kids to make sure they don't binge after school?

Veracity said...

Is it compulsory in the US to have the school lunch? Or is it a peer pressure thing (have to have what my friends are having)?

'Cause if its neither of the above, why not just pack an actual healthly lunch. Or is that likely to be inspected for contraband obesification substances as well.

Charlie said...

Well it is National French Toast Day

Carrie Arnold said...

I mean, I understand some of the reasoning of the in loco parentis laws that are out there, but this is taking it too far.

And in Spanish, "loco" translates to "crazy." Perhaps this is a literal translation of that?

I never got school lunch a lot because it was flat-out disgusting. Which might be some of the reason people gravitate towards french toast stix (I had them at summer camp. If they're served warm -- with syrup of course -- they're not all that bad).

Though I did get busted in high school for contraband cough drops.

mary said...

I can picture it now. Guards at the front doors searching students for contraband, uh I mean forbidden foods. If they get caught they find themselves face down on the floor eating tile. Yummmm, wonder if it tastes better with syrup? Probably.
It's time we set some boundaries for the schools. I've always felt there was Gov't control involved that sometimes tested our ability to follow the herd. If we give up without a fight then on to the next thing.
I grew up with some very powerful beliefs and fears about what happens when we lose control of even the little things. For me it's not the syrup, it's the freedom we are losing.One little thing at a time. We need to educate ourselves and not be afraid to use our voice or our pens.
Shall we empower you for your school chats Harriet? : ) Go get em! I'm following you.

Anonymous said...

Absouletly ridiculous. . .

What can school boards be thinking when they manufacture these policies

A :)

Anonymous said...

Fatadelic, many schools already have contraband food policies in place, encompassing such things as peanut butter, white bread, cookies, and sugary snacks.

Such policies really were the nail in the public school coffin for our family.

Harriet said...

Meowser, you get right to the heart of the matter. There have been a couple of long-term studies that have showed that restricting kids' calories during the day doesn't make them thinner because guess what? They eat more when they get home to compensate. Our bodies are incredibly self-regulating and seek homeostasis. And find it, usually.

This mom's daughter only eats hot lunch once a month, so this isn't a major issue most of the time. (My kids have never wanted to go near school lunches, they're so bad.) It's more the principle of the thing and what it foretells.

Carrie, contraband cough drops? If that was as bad as you got in high school . . . :-)

Baconsmom, I know what you mean. Our district has all manner of ridiculous policies in place. No birthday cupcakes. No sugar of any kind. Meanwhile they're serving French Toast Stix, and they can't offer fresh fruits and veggies because the school kitchens don't know how to or don't have time to actually cut them up. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I can't even get my brain to form words to explain how thoroughly appalled by that I am.

Has the country suddenly been taken over by Puritans or something again, that we can't allow /children/ to have something fun and joyful and purely pleasurable, for fear it will corrupt them?

Lisa Romeo said...

At my son's middle school, they have banned the sale of soda, french fries and fried chips; and teachers are forbidden to hand out candy.
But they sell slurpies, pizza, and grilled cheese on white bread. And, for a fundraiser, they sell overpriced gourmet chocolates.

Harriet said...

I can top that, Lisa. At my daughter's school, all sugar has been banned, except for the items sold from a cart in the hallway by an elderly woman who's been doing this for years. If you go to school at 7:30 a.m. you'll see kids buying and rapidly consuming chips, pork rinds, candy bars, sodas . . . and yet the district made such a whoop de do about the vending machines not being open to sell juice until schools' officially over for the day. WTF??

Of course we know WTF. It's all about appearances. It's about putting the spin on things. Public schools are dependent for support on federal and state legislators, ergo, they must jump on the children's health bandwagon, no matter how cockamamie, or risk getting penalized.

Anonymous said...

I still don't get how you can eat french toast sticks (which, if they're like most cafeteria food, are pretty dry) without syrup. Or jam, or some kind of substance to make them a bit more chewable.

(And for that matter: how is it that fried bread - which is what french toast is - is okay, but if you add syrup to it, it's not? That's insane.)

School lunches were miserable when I was a kid (I always packed a lunch, I was able to get better and often more-nutritious food that way). It sounds like they've not improved any, and they have the added danger of kids being searched for contraband condiments as they enter the lunchroom.

Anonymous said...

There's a post on Pandagon today about how it's not so terrible that schools are banning "junk foods," because children should be Eating Healtheee anyway, and if parents really want their children to have Twinkies, they can send the kids to school with them. I linked to this post as refutation of that, and the response I got was along the lines of, "That is an isolated incident." Is it really? I had been under the impression that schools were doing such things left and right, and I know they do so in the U.K. But in the U.S., is this kind of thing really happening all the time? That is, are kids routinely having food they bring to school "confiscated" because it is "fattening"? Before I post any further on it I want to make sure I have my facts straight. Thanks.

Harriet said...

Meowser, I think we're in the vanguard. The town I live in swings ultra-lefty, ultra-healthy, crunchy, etc., and it's just starting to happen here. I imagine we're a bit ahead of the curve if you're talking about the U.S. as a whole. There are probably a dozen cities in the U.S. where this kind of thing is happening. But it's clearly coming to the rest of the country unless something changes the direction of things.

So yes, it's happening here and in places like Boulder and Woodstock.

Thanks for fighting the good fight on this.

Unknown said...

of course it's better to be hungry than fat, because the hunger you'd feel after a whole slice of pizza is sick