For some reason, a local middle school which will remain nameless to protect the innocent serves breakfast like other schools, but instead of students going to the cafeteria - you know, that large room next to the kitchen with tables and chairs that's designed for the purpose of eating - breakfast is brought in insulated zipper bags mounted on wheeled carts to the classrooms. What's going on in the cafeteria during breakfast? The room sits empty.
What does this mean for the teacher in the classroom? They're doing the job of the cafeteria staff and passing out breakfast to students first thing in the morning instead of preparing for their classes. Other problems that are now the teacher's to deal with instead of cafeteria staff are the containers and wrappers the food comes in (The cafeteria staff roll the large kitchen garbage cans into the hallways for this, I kid you not.) and what to do with the leftovers. This in my opinion is the worst part of all and will explain in more detail.
Because like every other school meal program in the country, this is subsidized by the USDA and therefore must follow USDA nutrition guidelines. The breakfast will always have milk, fruit or juice, WHOLE grains and sometimes protein. I say sometimes because the USDA changed that requirement in favor of reducing fat and increasing whole grains. The only milk allowed in schools anymore is fat free or 1% milk. This also goes for yogurt or string cheese that makes the protein component of the meal that school breakfasts sometime has. Yogurt takes up a huge amount of space in the dairy case of most grocery stores because Americans have been told it's good for you so eat up. Unfortunately, the calcium in yogurt passes right through you when you go pee, because your body also needs the fat that naturally occurred in the cream that the yogurt was made with to metabolize the calcium. Yep, when you eat low fat or fat free yogurt, you're eating junk food. This is included in school breakfasts now, chock full of the carrageenan, cornstarch and all the xanthan gum you can stand.
The school breakfast also comes with a hot item. This can be breakfast pizza, which is a thick biscuit crust covered with low fat turkey sausage and reduced fat cheese, a low fat colby cheese omelette, a low fat turkey patty and egg patty on a bagel, or hard boiled eggs. These items are pretty rare however, as the USDA now insists your children are better off eating less fat and more whole grains every day, and evil protein tends to come in foods no one has quite figured out how to comepletely defat yet.
In case you're wondering what a nutritious, USDA approved whole grain breakfast looks like, here are wrappers taken from actual food items served at this local school for breakfast.
Yep, whole grain mini pancakes. about four or five came in this pack and they were actual silver dollar size. These tasty mapley things even has the Pillsbury Dough Boy on the front smiling at your kids, enticing them to gobble down their whole grains like good boys and girls. He's so happy he's dancing. This is to show what your kids will be doing after they eat all the sugar in this bag. Click on the image and you will get to read the ingredients list.
The first thing I see when I look at this is the amount of sugar in these little brown starch discs. 14 grams! Yes, that is a lot, especially when you consider what else is on the menu for this breakfast - Milk and apple juice. The milk alone has another 14 grams of sugar and more useless calcium because there's no fat in the milk to help your body do anything with it. The apple juice provides another whopping 24 grams of sugar! How's that morning buzz coming along, kids?
Then there's the ingredients that went into this amazingly healthy pouch of pancakelets. Soybean oil, canola(rapeseed!) oil, corn syrup and ground whole corn to go with the first ingredient, wheat. Hey, does that mean Pillsbury gets to call this multigrain too?
In case that wasn't enough whole grains for your kids in one morning, in today's breakfast to go with the pancakes were these fish shaped graham crackers. Perhaps that's to lull the kids into thinking because it's in a fun fish shape, it's cool to eat it. The ingredients list boasts proudly there's no high fructose corn syrup, so instead they used sugar, fructose and maltodextrin instead. That last one is made from ... corn. There's also a good dose of partially hydrogenated soybean oil and soy lecithin.
Oh yes, they also add a whopping 19 grams of sugar to the tally above! If each student ate one of every item available on this USDA approved low fat whole grain breakfast menu, they will consume 71 grams of sugar. For breakfast. The daily recommended amount of sugar to consume all day is less than 40 grams.
Now, here is the part where it gets really alarming. Not every kid eats breakfast, but the breakfast in this school is free for all of the students, so the only food that stays in the bag and returned to the cafeteria is absent kids breakfasts. The rest of the food stays in the classroom, and creates more problems all day.
There is always leftover food because the kids look at what they're offered and walk away with disappointed looks on their faces. What happens next is the most infuriating thing of all: The extra "food" that is leftover is removed from the insulated zipper bag and piled in the classroom somewhere. All the teachers have mini fridges in their rooms to hold the extra milk and juice. Every hour, the kids come into the classroom and spend the beginning of class scrounging for leftover food. So much for bell ringer activities. So much for getting students on task. The kids spend all day eating sugary breakfast leftovers right until lunch, eat lunch, then come back from lunch and scrounge around for breakfast leftovers. This means every hour instead of students preparing their brains for working in your class, they're focused on snagging another carton of fat free milk and eating more fish-shaped whole grain biscuits. More sticky tables, more food and food wrappers end up littering the classroom and the kids are buzzing with more sugar in their bodies, which helps them focus on school work so well.
This is the most infuriating thing of all. Teachers in this school spend their entire day dealing with students eating breakfast every class period they teach.
The USDA pays out over one and a half billion dollars in one year to feed children in school. That's your tax dollars being spent on sugary, soy and corn infested crap.
But it's whole grains, so it's good for you!
The kids are eating all day because even after eating the first breakfast, they're still hungry. They go back for more of the same food, and you have students who spend day after day shoving this garbage into their faces and they're still hungry.