January 13, 2002
Albany-- On today's lunch menu: cheeseburger, french fries and canned fruit in heavy syrup. Most nutritionist will tell you that's packed with calories and fat. Congress will debate what our kids eat and how it's contributing to our nation's growing obesity. The heart of the debate--inside our school lunchrooms.
"Is a french fry a vegetable?" Middle School student Lindsey Hassenstav says, "It was before it came to my plate."
It's the other vegetable--hot greasy french fries are these middle school students favorite food.
"Are french fries good for you?" Sixth grader Erik Taylor says, "Yes." "Why do you think they are good for you?" "Because it is a potato."
Well, it's not the healthiest way to serve up a potato--but cafeteria workers have to walk a fine line between good for you vegetables and what the kids say is good to eat.
Cafeteria Manager Roland Watts says, "It is a fatty food, but it's their favorite. Sometimes the kids think about how good it is not the nutritional value. But it's my job to get the nutritional value."
But, cafeteria workers have only so much to choose from when they make the menu. Canned fruits and vegetables are much more prevalent than the fresh variety. Plus the kids get to choose--they don't have to take the vegetable offered. And today, for every kid who took the lettuce and tomato side, five others didn't.
And for many of the kids I spoke to, the junkier the better.
"If you were to devise your own lunch what would it be?" Hassenstav says, "Pizza and junk food because I like junk food."
The 2001 Surgeon General's report on obesity cited school meals as one area where Americans should begin to cut down on fat.
Posted at 5:45 p.m. by firstname.lastname@example.org