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.