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Where’s The Beef In School Lunches?

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Michelle Obama’s focus on eliminating childhood obesity by revamping the school lunch menus has received mixed reviews.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my sister’s frustration with the school lunch program on the first day a meatless menu was offered in her school cafeteria. Since that post, I have received many emails from individuals who have also had issues with the latest changes to the school lunch program, and some reported they are working to ensure that beef stays on school menus.

The beef checkoff program is one strong advocate of retaining beef on the menu when schools are forced to cut down on the protein options offered to students. A beef checkoff-funded website, beeffoodservice.com, offers some resources to help schools build their menus.

According to the site, “Beef is an important part of a healthy diet for kids and an essential component of healthy school meals. Schools are faced with providing meals that help growing kids get all the essential nutrients they need for optimal health while still meeting the USDA requirements for healthy school meals. To help schools include high-quality protein, like beef, on the menu, a team of culinary experts developed five new beef recipes that can be easily incorporated into a school lunch menu. The recipes were tested in schools across the U.S. to evaluate students' response, but also ensure they are cost-effective and efficient to prepare and source.”

 

Among the recipe examples are: “Sweet Potato Beef Mash-Up,” a Southwest-seasoned ground beef and sweet potatoes dish served hash-style and topped with a mixture of plain yogurt and hot pepper sauce that can be served in a small whole wheat tortilla; and “Sweet and Sloppy Joes,” a mixture of ground beef, bell peppers, onions, raisins and tomato sauce seasoned with dried oregano and ancho chili powder that can be served on a whole wheat roll/bun and topped with chopped mango, jalapeno, tomato, cilantro or green onion.

For more information on these recipes and the test schools that tried them out, click here.

Another proponent of the school lunch program is the Facebook page, “School Meals That Rock,” which describes itself as a “place to share and celebrate what is right with school nutrition in America. It is a counter-revolution to the media bashing of school meals and a tribute to every lunch lady (and gentleman) working to do amazing things for kids' nutrition.”

The page has a lot of kid-friendly finger food ideas and some rave reviews about school lunches, including photos of colorful and full school lunch trays.

How well are the reduced options in school lunch menus going over with kids who are being served them? I ran across a recent article in The Blaze entitled, “Students Fed Up With Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Overhaul — Menu-Item Snapshots Spell Out Why.” From this article, students' grading of the revised menu options appears to be well below average.

An excerpt from the article reads, “About 1 million public school students said ‘no way’ to their cafeteria menus after Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign led to anger and frustration over food that apparently many American kids didn’t want to stomach. But for those without other options, all that’s left is the power of social media and cell phone cameras when they simply can’t take another bite.”

The language used by some of the students in their social media posts is a bit off-color, but the photos that accompany their posts provide good reason why they might be upset. You can view all of the tweets here, but below is a picture of one student’s lunch. I think I'd have trouble saying "yum" to that.

What are your kids saying about the school lunch program? Are the meals satisfactory, or do they fall short? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

More articles to enjoy:

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I’m Having An Internal Conversation About Beef’s Future

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Without Expansion, The U.S. Beef Industry Is Unsustainable

Discuss this Blog Entry 17

Gene Schriefer (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2014
Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2014

Really, go to the link Gene Shriefer posted. Read this entire article It is unbelievable that people can be this stupid and still get published. Better yet read the comments following the article. I dont think that many of these readers are Ag people yet they are nearly unanimous that this author is a total moron.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2014

As problems grow with a lot of issues with our nations young the remedy needs to come from the same constant place....Home. Our government looks out across their desk to whomever expert was appointed to tell them the facts they want to here. After 10 tears of school lunches now my wife has to make my children who are average size and weigh,t and active in sports, lunch every morning as they refuses to eat school lunch .

Tunde (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2014

What's so healthy about feeding kids tons of chemicals and antibiotics that the gentle cows and all animals that are tortured and murdered for money and profit - the meat and dairy industry doesn't care about kids health or animal suffering - all you care about is lining your pockets with blood money - why don't you show the kids and moms on where and how your dead flesh gets there

on Apr 7, 2014

Tunde,
I don't know if you can be saved. I believe you are allowing ideology to get in the way of sound science and common sense.

Tunde (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2014

I don't need to be saved - the innocent defenseless lives that you produce and bludgeon for pure profit need to be saved - murder for money - do you have a conscience? They have no voice when they are tortutured and skinned alive for big business - common sense is going vegan. Cows have lives and feelings, they are not commodities

on Jun 5, 2014

I've raised cattle, hogs, and grain all my life. I'm 51. I know what it takes to raise all of these products. It is apparent you on the other hand have no idea. I take your comments as an insult. All I have to say is that you are completely ignorant about what is involved in Ag production. Go troll on another site where you might know something.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2014

Michelle needs to stick to her spending money on lavish vacations and eating ice cream and not deciding what our children need to be eating in school. We need protein in our diets and beef is one way of doing that.

Tunde (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2014

Vegetables and beans and other healthy proteins are much healthier, don't require murder of other living beings and will cut down on heart disease. You should look into it. Non meat eaters are much healthier and happier

Ben (not verified)
on Apr 8, 2014

Tunde,
No you need to look into it. There are many proven facts and studies showing that vegan and vegetarian diets are not any healthier or better for you then meat diets. Check these out.

http://authoritynutrition.com/top-11-biggest-lies-about-vegan-diets/

http://m.beefmagazine.com/blog/3-ways-beef-made-headlines-again-week?NL=...

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2014

That "all we get for lunch today" photo showing a burger and milk is very misleading. Cafeterias are required to offer 5 components for school lunch - protein, grain, fruit, veg, and milk - and students are required to choose at least 3 of them. This student chose to leave behind the fruit and veg. A more accurate caption would be "all I chose for lunch today."

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 10, 2014

Agreed. Why are you trying to make something political? Why are you always pushing some weirdo conservative viewpoint? I'm a beef farmer and I totally think school lunches needed an overhaul. I'm lucky that my kids were active and did not live in an urban inner-city environment; these obese kids are the main target with the school lunch renovation. That said, schools cannot always afford beef.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 10, 2014

(by "you" I am referring to Amanda, not Anon)

wynne (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2014

In the years that I taught in the school systems, I don't remember seeing the meat from the trays being thrown away, the children would eat the meat and fruit and toss the veggies. The students were probably eating veggies at home that were cooked with seasonings, but schools don't cook like Mom. The majority of students would bring their lunches because of the cost to students that were not on free lunches. The students on free lunches did not like most of the foods that were served because they were not familiar with the different foods. I believe that childhood obesity is a direct result of lack of physical activity. Children spent their school days sitting in class, often in front of a computer, then go home to more computer and TV. Majority of the students live in urban areas with little chance to be outside playing or getting any physical activity. Unfortunately, the "experts" who cut out PE and the Arts are the same as the individuals who tell the schools what to feed the students. The school can serve the recommended foods, but they can't make the students like the foods or eat the meal. The amount of wasted food is unbelievable.

Aaron Green (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2014

I have 2 kids in a Texas public rural school. Both of them have a thin build and very active. Both come home every day extremely hungry. They have commented for quite a while that they grow hungry and tired long before school is out. I am disappointed at what they are given in return for the price I have to pay for it.

on Apr 7, 2014

Can they ask for seconds without reprimand?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 10, 2014

Big Deal. Send something extra with them. My kids were athletes and academic honors kids. They too were always hungry. I made sure they always had extra with them. Actually, so did all the moms. Get over yourself.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

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Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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