Skip to comments.Observations about hunger from a school custodian ["Poor" kids throw free lunches in the trash]
Posted on 08/30/2011 12:40:45 PM PDT by grundle
I recently heard an ad on the radio from Let's Move, Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign. It stated that nearly one in three children in American are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African-American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40 percent of the children are overweight or obese.
Then, within the same hour, I heard an ad for the Food Bank of Lincoln stating that one in four children in America are hungry. Looking at their website, this could mean they do not have enough food or are food insecure. The website further noted that the word "hunger" has been stricken by the USDA from its measurements, seemingly indicating that measuring hunger in America today is a bit tricky.
Now I was confused. Do we have a hunger problem in America or an obesity problem?
In countries with real poverty (more on that later), you see vast numbers of very thin and obviously hungry people. In America, you see vast numbers of fat and obviously not hungry people -- and this is especially true among the poor, which is at the least ironic.
The hunger advocates will answer that we have both a hunger and an obesity problem. Their claim is that the poor are not fat because they have and consume too much food but the poor are fat because they do not move enough and do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. They then blame this, of course, on evil corporate America for providing TV and video games that keep children from moving and McDonald's that keeps children from eating right.
I have a different theory. I blame this problem on the largest, most pervasive and powerful entity known to man -- Big Government.
They say your garbage man knows more about you than your neighbors do.
I work as a custodian in the Lincoln Public Schools. I clean up the cafeterias after the students get done eating. I have done this in both a grade school and a high school. I will offer a few observations.
LPS feeds the children of Lincoln morning, noon and night. They feed them food that looks and tastes (I eat it) a lot like the food McDonald's serves its customers. My first observation is that the kids simply cannot eat all the food available to them.
We have 37 grade schools alone in Lincoln. Each one of them throws out barrels and barrels of perfectly good uneaten food. I know this because I haul it to our trash bins each and every school day.
At first I was appalled by this waste. I asked why we keep serving food to kids who are obviously not hungry and won't eat it. I noted that just one grade school's wasted food would serve the City Mission and that all 37 grade schools' wasted food could serve all the hungry in Lincoln.
My second observation is that American kids are fat because they are encouraged to eat too much food. I have looked and looked for skinny kids. Most look about right to me and quite a few are chubby. In the school where I work, 57 percent of the students get free or reduced lunches. In the entire cafeteria, it is hard to find a skinny kid when at least half of them should be.
I have been told that when free or reduced lunches are given by the taxpayer to poor children, our federal government dictates that they must take it whether they want it or not. If they do not want it, then we must throw it away when it comes back on their trays. Since our government never has any fraud nor waste, I know there is a perfectly good explanation for this. What? No, I don't know what it is. I just know there is one.
LPS also serves the students fruit and veggies and salad if they want it. Again a lot like McDonald's. Except, at McDonald's, the customers actually eat what they order.
Poverty, like "The Rich," is a relative term. Most Americans would think of poverty as having some real deprivation associated with it. These are the poor we see in countries run by African dictators, communists and the corrupt governments of Mexico, India and the Middle East. These poor people are thin and starving. They are truly hungry and they look thin because they do not receive enough food to thrive or even survive.
The federal government and the statist-leaning media are like the old joke: "Who you gonna believe? Me or your own lying eyes." When poor children are as big, as athletic and as fat (or even more so) as middle class and rich children, and the first lady deems obesity an epidemic, and the public schools shove food constantly at their students who throw it away, then we do not have a hunger problem in America. We have typical government policy and consequences.
This has gone on for a long time. I am struggling myself with portion control and have been for years. It's so ingrained in me that, for years, I snickered at people who ate truly normal portions as if they were "wimps." I routinely assume that what the Nutrition Facts label describes as one serving won't be enough and plan to eat 2. Truth is, I'm so used to it that one serving is in fact not enough, and I still feel hungry afterwards. I have lost some weight, by controlling portions and making better choices, but for so long, as a society we've become accustomed to cheap, unhealthy food in very large quantities, that we are simply used to it.
There’s also a flip side to this. Here in Ohio, the state has also mandated that all school children be offered low fat foods. My teen daughter is very slim. She literally wears size 00 jeans. (That’s one size below 0, for you men out there.) To keep this svelte figure, she eats as much fried chicken as she can get her hands on. She’s active.
Now the state has determined that because of “our” obesity problem, my child cannot have anything over 1% milk. Her sweets will be limited to only a few per week and her portions sizes have been decreased.
Obviously, she will and has been bringing her own lunches. But big brother has no more business trying to force this low fat diet on my thin daughter, than it does to tax me to have these other kids be forced to take their salads, which of course they throw out.
One of the first things we did this year (we homeschool) is to explain basic nutrition, including proper portion sizes. My daughter was completely shocked as to how little food she ‘should’ take in through the day. We’ve measured and used household objects to eyeball proper sizes (a serving of cheese is about the size of a 9V battery, and a serving of pasta about the size of a baseball). Our grocery bills have plummeted, and we’re all healthier. We were all hungry at first (except for my teenage son, who can pretty much not eat enough to keep his engine running), but you adjust. My best trick was to drink LOTS of water — including a full 8 oz before every meal, and after if I still felt hungry. Good luck and keep up the good work.
Central, one-size-fits-all government is the enemy of the nation, and of freedom itself. This point has to be hammered home again and again in the ‘12 election.
getting government out of the school business and out of the lunch business would be the best thing.
“... she will and has been bringing her own lunches”.
That is very smart. For one thing, she can eat what you want her to and what she likes. Secondly, it is far healthier. A lot of the school lunches are processed foods... simply heated in a large microwave and served. The portion may be small but not the fat calories/sodium/sugar/chemicals. Your daughter needs more healthy calories and bigger portions than the school offers... I do the same thing. I would rather my child eat what I have prepared then some unknown food that I know little about. IMHO
I still look at proper portions and find that it seems pointless to make a batch of something when only a quarter if it should be eaten, and a lot of leftovers just aren’t appealing to me no matter how hard I try. Just in the last 4 or 5 years have I been able to eat leftovers and they still make me go “eeh” sometimes.
What do you mean about your son? That he still eats a lot?
Stats like that always bug me. Do they determine this by asking the children?
When my grandsons visit we provide breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks in between. But if you ever ask them if they're hungry, they will always answer "yes", the answer is never "no". I guess my grandsons are part of the one in four.
The same happened for lunch except now they had ketchup packets to stomp on. The ground was littered with chicken nuggets used as projectiles.
We get the never ending drumbeat that these kids are classified as hungry. Why? Because some Arizona bureaucrat asked a 15 YO if they were hungry. Jeez they are eating machines at that age. They are always hungry. Apparently that is the only criteria used to determine childhood humger in Arizona.
This has now evolved to free breakfast and lunch year round, school or vacation. The kids are fatter than ever.
I remember the first week of Paris Island where all of us in my platoon just could not eat the slop that we were served at each meal. Most of it was hitting the garbage cans and we could not believe the older recruits standing at the garbage cans grabbing untouched food off of our trays as we went through. The food looked mighty unappetizing but by the second week we were eating all we could get. Exercise and pushing your body to limits you never thought of will do that to your body and your appetite. SOS for breakfast sure turned out to be damn good!
I think they determine if a kid is “hungry” by asking if they have missed any meals in the past month or so.
or something like thaat.
some schools now offer dinner. BTW, the lunch and dinner during summer, they can bring their whole family.
even something as cheap as a bowl of oatmeal (maybe a bit of butter and some sugar in it) is good enough for me if that is all I can afford
or 2 or 3 bowls.
Reminds me of an episode on “The Five” on Fox last week - the saner panel members were pointing out the idiocy of Obama policy that has 45 million Americans on food stamps, when Bob Beckel went into one of his rants about how they’d be perfectly happy to have millions of Americans starving.
I was just waiting for someone to point out that starvation is such a significant problem that Obama’s wife could recognize childhood obesity as one of the country’s (and one of the inner city’s) greatest concerns. Sadly, no one did.
People who are very thin need to eat more in proportion to their body size than average. That's because the ratio of surface area to body mass is high, and since heat is lost from the surface, more calories must be expended to maintain the body temperature at a constant level. Once that ratio changes, watch out--you're going to get fat, and you'll require fewer calories to maintain that fat.
This has been one of my biggest challenges too. If I eat non-processed foods with the right amounts of fiber, protein and fat, it’s surprising how little I need to get by.
Another appetite killer for me is giving my undivided attention to the food. If I read, watch tv, drive (I know), etc. I will eat much more than if I just sit down and eat. I wonder if that is true for some of the kids who can go play or whatever as soon as they are “finished.”
So the stats say there are lots of fat kids. They also say that there are lots of hungry kids. I see these pointing to the same kids. Hungry fat kids.
I totally agree with you—my children are naturally thin, and very active, and I give them whole milk to drink—good for their growing brains.
At school, however, they are only offered 1% milk—a pity.
Don't you worry about that. Gummint will soon forbid that. In fact, there are schools in Chicago that already prohibit sack lunches, unless you can get a Doctor to sign off on a special dietary need.
The author of this post sounds pretty damn intelligent for a school custodian. Maybe he’s a working class philosopher, like that Eric Hoffer(IIRC) guy.
wow. That is insane.
The story about the Chicago schools was on FR a few months ago. You are correct: Insane.
I could make a different observation.
In World War II, the US Army discovered that many soldiers from the South would only eat grits, and would shun most other food given them, because they had no experience or interest in it. These men were scrawny, and many only avoided the niacin deficiency disease pellagra because the government had made all (white) children take brewer’s yeast, once the cause of this horrific disease was known.
This was made worse by what passed for nutritionists at the time, who would try to feed soldiers anything as long as it had “x” amount of protein, “x” amount of fat, etc. So the Army bought enormous amounts of food that just about nobody wanted to eat.
One such experiment was boxcars full of salmon on ice. At the time seen as a “junk fish” outside of the Pacific Northwest, nobody was familiar with it and its strong flavor, and soldiers rejected it, almost to the point of mutiny.
So eventually the salmon was replaced with a very low grade of bologna, which was fried for breakfast. It was of such poor quality that many soldiers regularly vomited after eating it. But at least more of them would eat it.
My point is that even in the 1960s, there were efforts to provide “nutritious” food to poor children in schools. And no matter what it was, if they were not used to eating it, they would throw it out, and do without, or smuggle in their own food.
Most any school cafeteria worker could tell you what foods children would eat, and what they would not, and it varied considerably around the US. Many Mexican-American children only wanted to eat rice and beans, rounded off with corn tortillas. Children in the South still often had to have grits on their plate. In the Midwest, beef and potatoes were the menu.
But very, very few children around the country, even today, like the crap that trendy nutritionists and do-gooders like Michelle Obama want them to eat. Bean sprouts, tofu, cooked beets, and stuff like that is, in the great majority of cases, destined for the trash can.
And not because the children are not hungry.
About my son - Active teenage boys can consume significantly more calories than any other age/gender group. My son is very active (a runner, plays baseball, etc.) and so his servings are on the highest end of the spectrum, with additional servings of calcium and protein to help build muscles and bones. He’s grown several inches in the last 6 months, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing — and he is very lean. When his growth rate slows, so generally does his eating. We still focus on portion sizes and healthy (non-processed) foods, but he’s just fortunate in that he gets to eat more servings than the average person!
Unless you’re ribs are showing and there are flies on you, you are not “hungry”.
One of the major points of progressivism is to have the government provide for children in the way that parents used to.
They push for programs in which the government provides meals, healthcare and so forth directly to children.
The government also subsidizes the having of children by those least fit to be parents. In effect, unambitious, unintelligent underclass women (in many cases, mere girls) are made to be government employees in exchange for having children by whomever and however many, no questions asked. Then, these dysfunctional families are used as justification for ever greater government intervention and control over children and people generally.
The ideology behind the programs is that to end bourgeouis society, one must destroy the nuclear family.
One would think that if parents, with government assistance, cannot feed and provide healthcare to their children then they have no business raising children, and the children would be better off with foster parents. But for progressives, this is a desirable condition in order to further ideological change.
Poor people are fat, rich people are skinny.
It’s because the poor people can’t afford physical trainers, or aerobics classes.
We need to have FREE EXERCISE classes for all children. That would solve the problem.
I have gotten to the point that if he is on, the TV goes off.
LOL. I finally got used to it. During during my smack year at Air Force we had that at breakfast the day of one of my "indoctrination" flights. While flying upside down and doing loops I filled the barf bag, and could never eat SOS again... I went hungry until lunch.
I just had all my teeth pulled Monday morning, and my mouth is full of stitches.
Yesterday I had some ice cream, this morning I had a small bowl of cottage cheese.
I don't feel hungry, and If I did, that would be too bad because I can't eat much of anything unless it is the consistency of yogurt.
Funny how I'm not 'starving' to death.
If you are struggling with portion control, simply give up all foods made with grains. Also all foods made with sugar. You won’t have that problem any more. Plus you can eat all you want from meat, veggies, and healthy fats. Just dump all the breads. You will lose weight and you will not struggle with portion control. The only foods that make you eat too much of them are grain or bean based foods. Don’t touch them.
The note at the bottom oh his other articles say he’s a systems analyst at Goodyear. Maybe he lost that job.
LOL. Of course they are. They push their vegetables around the plate, don't eat their dinner and then scream at Mom & Dad that they are hungry for a snack later in the evening.
Fat kids probably are more hungry. They are eating the wrong things, grains and processed starches and sugars, and they are exhibiting symptoms of metabolic syndrome, on their chubby way to diabetes.
Feed them meats, veggies, good fats, whole organic milk, a cookie made with butter or good ice cream, and they will be slender, strong, and healthy. The emphasis on grains and non fats is killing them. All they get are frankenfoods. Starches turn to sugar and that makes their bodies crave more of it.
Silly Freepers! This is not about children nor hunger nor portion sizes. It is about welfare for farmers! Ditto for foreign food aid. Just try to end any of these programs and watch the farm state politicians squeal the loudest, even the supposedly conservative ones.
Try it with two pinches of salt instead of sugar - delicious.
I usually eat until I feel full, it doesn’t matter the portions, then I stop. I’m 50 something, 5’10” and weigh about 180/185 and wear a 32” waist jean.
I don’t eat at Micky D’s (okay, about 3 times a year), or a lot of other crap. I won’t say I’m a hardcore eat healthy type of person, but I don’t eat a whole lot of processed foods either.
I used to be fairly active, but that’s changed the past few years, and my food intake has seemed to adjust accordingly.
I wish you well on the food front.
I was of the WWII period, even to the extent of being in line for the invasion of Japan. Your remarks bring back youthful memories of food lines. I was thinking about all my boyhood friends that I and my brother played ball games with, baseball, football, basketball, hockey(can and ice), etc. I only remember one boy we called ‘Butch’ that was anywhere near being fat. Of course the great depression had much to do with just having a slim diet of foods available and affordable, including own and welfare. My mother being from the Volga River area did like salmon but it was expensive for us.
I can vouch for the waste in school lunch programs. A few years ago, recently retired from the military, I took a teaching job at a middle school, to help pay the bills while I tried to launch a consulting firm. The school where I taught was in a poor, rural district in Mississippi. Every kid in the school—that’s right, every single kid in the school—qualified for the federal school lunch program, so “nutrition” was a priority.
But here’s the dirty little secret you never hear. Many forms of federal education aid (and even some state programs) are tied to participation in the school lunch program. So, it’s in the district’s financial interest to maximize the number of kids getting free or reduced meals.
At my school, we actually stopped instruction every morning at 8:45 so the kids could eat breakfast. Never mind that lunch would be served barely two hours later, or that much of the food wound up in the trash can. Just another example of your tax dollars at work.
BTW, many of those same kids always had money for the vending machines.
I should add that I’m mostly a meat and potatoes kinda guy. Midwesterner here. Not that a plate full of brownies and a gallon of whole milk wouldn’t get my attention ,mind you.
When I quit drinking the weight just melted off. No change in my diet. I’ve always wondered about bums. They drink all day, but seem to all be skinny.
I have a long time friend who worked for years for the Los Angeles School District. She no longer works there & doesn’t miss it.
She rotated as a watcher in the cafeteria, along with other employees.
She has told me for years that the kids load up their plates deliberately, with a sneer on their faces while being watched, & then deliberately poke thru the food & throw most of it into the garbage.
They know fully they are wasting the white man’s efforts to help them. Most of the kids she had under her supervision were black & arrogant——even the 2nd graders.
getting government out of the lunch business “
Breakfast ...... Lunch....... & DINNER !!!!!!!
The school busses ran all summer here just to take the kids to school for meals——NO CLASSES!!!
I am furious!!!!!!
No, it's because they are used to, and want SUGAR!!!
Candy, ice cream and twinkies washed down with LOTS of soda pop! That way they can bound off the ceiling and then get their drugs from the teacher.
And they send a backpack home with food for the weekend. There was an article about it here on FR. I think it was in OH. One mother said it was sop convenient not to have to worry about food on the weekends when she was chauffeuring her children all over town to dance and sports. She didn’t have to worry because all they had to do was open the fridge and grab the stuff the school sent home. She said she prepared one big meal on Sunday.