By Jeff Girod
Food fight! This one’s in Chicago where an elementary school has banned homemade sack lunches, requiring every class clown, schoolyard bully and teacher’s pet to buy a nutritiously balanced lunch served by the cafeteria.
No sack lunches? How will tomorrow’s generation ever learn the importance of bartering? Without experiencing the thrill of trading a granola bar for a Chocodile—or a Ziploc bag of Cheez-Its for a Nutter Butter—we’re dooming millions of children to a lifetime of paying full-price at flea markets and strip-mall mattress stores.
“Nutrition wise, it’s better for the children to eat at the school,” said Elsa Carmona, principal of Little Village Academy. “It’s milk versus a Coke.” Principal Carmona went on to say, “Sit up straight,” “No running in the hallway” and “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” (Principal Carmona is a bit of a hard ass.)
I like tater tots as much as the next second grader . . . but is she really expecting students to eat fish sticks and sloppy joes every day? She’ll have an auditorium of 10-year-olds with claw hands from trying to open those tiny cardboard milk cartons.
But hold the recess bell: Maybe Principal Carmona has a point. Turns out every lunch in her cafeteria must contain whole grains (which is way healthier than the half grains I’ve been snacking on). Her school’s meals also feature a different vegetable every day, plus only reduced-fat salad dressings. I’ve lost 5 pounds just imagining it.
Granted, Chicago’s mandatory lunch program costs $2.25 per day, but 86 percent of Chicago’s students qualify for free or reduced prices. And even if parents had to pay the $11.25 a week, that’s still a bargain. I pay $35 a month to send food to a starving child in India, and I doubt it’s served on a lime green tray by a 300-year-old in a hairnet.
As a rule, I’m a fan of any meal I don’t have to prepare. I can’t even peel an orange without lying down. I’m lucky if I eat one healthy thing a week and that was before I discovered cheese and beef jerky were trying to kill me.
I’ll be honest with you, because I think our friendship has blossomed during the last 350 words: You’re a fat, disgusting pig. Now don’t get upset tubby, or your neck rolls will get all glisten-y. I’m a fat disgusting pig, too. We’re all disgusting pigs. It’s just a cruel fact that frosting tastes better than cauliflower. And the only way we’re going to eat healthier is if someone removes the snack cakes from our cold pudgy hands and takes away our ability to choose.
Children are no different. They may look round and adorable on the outside, but on the inside they have the aorta and lower intestine of a thigh-chafing, pastrami-loving plumber. One-third of America’s kids are overweight or obese, and since children consume at least 30 percent of their calories while in school, healthier school lunches make sense.
Our kids are lucky if they accidentally brush up against a head of lettuce, let alone five square meals a week. And some parents still want to pack their own kids’ lunches? Why, because there’s so much nutrition in a Capri Sun and fish crackers? The burden of parenting is hard enough. Be thankful that someone else is volunteering to literally step up to the plate.
Schools throughout the country are taking Principal Carmona’s low-sodium meatball and running with it. An Alabama school banned students from bringing drinks from home, serving ice water instead. New York schools outlawed cupcakes and other desserts. An Arizona school allows home-packed lunches—as long as nothing contains white flour, refined sugar or other “processed” foods. And schools across the nation have booted chocolate milk and soda from their vending machines.
These sound like drastic measures, but these are drastic times. And I’m ready to endorse anything that preserves the health of our children. (And more importantly, cuts down on the amount of wheezing, sweaty ass crack I see at bus stops.)
It’s too late for you and me. But thanks to visionaries such as Principal Carmona, some day someone might actually eat a radish.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.