Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Trouble with School Lunches
I've seen several documentaries, news stories and articles over the past few months about the low quality of food served in American Public Schools.  When compared to countries like France, Korea, Spain, and England our cafeteria food looks downright embarrassing.

My first reaction to this information was, like many parents, why can't we feed our kids better food?  Then I started to really analyze the data.

First, almost every nation brought into the comparison has a ridiculously smaller population.  It's much easier for a smaller system to sustain better quality food service.  When the entire country is the size of our single state of Texas it's easier to find local, fresh food sources.
Second, most of the countries compared to ours are in worse financial situations.  This means they are serving their children delicious healthy meals, but these kids will grow up to inherit exorbitant national debt. In countries like Spain and Portugal, they're looking at total bankruptcy.
Finally, many of these countries really don't treat children well in other ways.  One of the countries I researched as the largest population of orphans in first world nations.  Upon further research I learned that the majority of the orphans were simply given up by their parents because they weren't interested in their continuing care. Another country has an extremely high rate of children below poverty level.  These are children who aren't even enrolled in government schools.  They roam the streets and steal or beg for their lunches.

As I scanned through the information on site after site the information only became more depressing.  Logical analysis of the data made it seem like the only two options were:
1) Go deeper into the taxpayers pockets to serve the children healthier food, or
2) Neglect a higher percentage of children, and focus on serving a smaller quantity of lunches overall.

I believe there is a better way.  If each school district was responsible for raising the money for the school lunch program, the system would be broken into much smaller, more easily managed budgets.  If, as a parent, I knew I was providing healthy meals to my children, and their peers, I would be more emotionally involved in the decision making process.

Now I know this doesn't take into account really low income districts.  The first objection to a change of this kind is that kids in "rich" districts will be eating filet, while kids in "poor" ones will still be stuck with chicken nuggets.  This is where two options would come into play.
The first option would be a benefactor program.  People with incomes in a higher tax bracket would get a tax exemption for donating to local school lunch programs with a higher percentage of children in low income or poverty level families.  In other words, Mr Richman gets a small tax break if he donates a portion of his salary to Sally Poorkid's school.  This would remove several middle-men, provide Mr Richman with opportunities to show his benefactor status, and would add extra funds to Sally Poorkid's school lunch program.

The second option (which really should go hand in hand with the first option) would be to set up a mandatory lunch rotation with school parents.  Each child who attends the school would need a parent to work in the cafeteria a minimum number of days each year. For instance, there is an average enrollment of 694 students per school in the state of Florida.  The average number of children per family is two. There are approximately 180 days in the school year.  This means the parents would need to work in the cafeteria a minimum of 2 days per year.

As one final note I'd like to add the following:

What do you think?
I welcome rational discussion.  Ad Hominem, Straw Man, and other comments containing illogical fallacies will be removed.

No comments:

Post a Comment