Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Food at School

At the Parent-Teacher meeting last night, sparsely attended by about 5 teachers, 5 parents, and 5 administrators of various levels, the new "Wellness Plan," was unveiled. The wellness plan that Mississippi created focuses mainly on what will be served in our cafeterias, but evidently (there is a little confusion on my part here) it also carries over to food that can be served in class.

There was a list of approved vending machine snack items which my district seems to believe are also the only things allowable in classrooms. I completely agree that the breakfasts and lunches served in schools should be nutricious and balanced, and that candy should not be a daily treat. But I also think there is a time and place in every diet for a treat, and such treats are frankly quite useful in the classroom.

I give treats as follows: Fridays at lunch, anyone who scored a perfect score on their spelling test gets a piece of candy (a single Jolly Rancher or mini Tootsie Roll, for example.) If you have 5 days of perfect behavior, one of your choices for a reward is a piece of candy. Fewer than 25% of children choose this (most pick to have lunch with me.) When we fill up our marble jar: some sort of party. We have had 3 parties this year, two for marble jar fill-ups (one with cookies, juice, and chips, one with popcorn and cocoa) and another for the holidays (cookies and chips and juice.)

This really annoys me because tomorrow is the 100th day of school, and I'm not allowed to have cupcakes! I'm sure this will fade, as most of the more rediculous of district policies do, but as it has just been introduced, everyone is all about enforcement.

Last night, what annoyed me was our food services director telling us that we (the teachers) couldn't eat anything in front of the students that they could not have. Her example was eating a steak for lunch when they had hamburgers. Basically, it seemed, we are not supposed to eat anything except for school lunch in front of the kids. Well, I'm a vegetarian, and although she claims there are "3 fruits, 3 vegetables, and 3 meats" as choices at every lunch, I just don't think I should be forced to pay for sub-standard food that doesn't meet my dietary requirements. I do not ask that they serve me vegetarian main meal options, I ask that I can bring my own sandwiches and leftovers to eat. Also, those 3 vegetables are tiny containers of overcooked canned veggies or powdered mashed potatoes, and those 3 fruits are usually underwashed bruised apples or tinned peaches. And as for the "3 meats" -- it usually seems that there are 2 choices at the most. Today every single child in my class had a hamburger patty in liquid in a styrofoam bowl. Mmmm. No bun or anything. What is that?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

if so few people atttended, how will others know the new rules. Can't you just say you had already planned the party and it was too late to change the plan?

7:35 AM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Jessica said...

I mostly didn't worry about it. We made "100 Snack Mix" and some other classes did actually bring in cupcakes to share (they were not at the meeting!)

7:38 PM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Jessica said...

"100 Snack Mix" is, by the way, surprisingly delicious. We had...

100 m&ms
200 peanut m&ms
100 skittles
100 yogurt drops
100 pretzel sticks
100 hot cheetos
100 regular cheetos
200 cheerios
200 fruit loops
100 chocolate chips
100 raisins
100 mini marshmallows

It was chocolatey, fruity, sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, and chewy all at once... actually very good!

7:42 PM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger ~lynnie said...

My understanding is that the dietary regulations come from the federal government. I teach in texas but what we serve has to be nutritious (fruit, nuts, etc.) However the one loophole is chocolate because it is a milk-based product. :)

10:44 PM, January 18, 2007  

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