Friday, September 21, 2012

Eat This....

The new Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act
that has brought forth several school breakfast and lunch meal plan changes nationwide and has also started a lot of dialogue. It appears that one hand is promoting "calories in and calories out" and the other hand on the same body is dictating a national diet. There has to be a balance between exercise, nutritional meal that fit the needs of the individual and academics. Both nutrition and activity are needed to learn!

With all the changes in the meal patterns for schools who participate in the federal school lunch program there is a lot of misinformation floating around. This newsletter will help calrify the differences.

Full comparison of the old and new nutritional standards.

I live in a strong agricultural state. We believe in our products and want to see them utilized in our school food programs. We have kids that are active and some that are not. We still have physical education in our state, but we also have high academic expectations that if we aren't careful could minimize the amount of activity our kids get throughout the day. The new standards place limits on calories and proteins, dictate how much of the breads can be non- whole grain and require students to take a specific amount of fruits and veggies. It sounds ok from the outside to many, but there are some HUGE challenges with the new plan. The biggest of MY concerns is that many kids are hungry shortly after finishing lunch. The calorie limits are ok for a few, but not enough to sustain most throughout the remainder of the day. If students are active and involved in before or afterschool extra- curricular activities they need more than what is currently being provided. Students may not get an opportunity to eat until after 6pm and then gorge themselves or come home from school and grab whatever they can. When possible students are also leaving school at lunch and heading to the local stores to purchase foods to fill themselves up. Almost all of it being junkfood!

I will be the first to say that I think schools have had to pick up a large portion of things that used to be done at home and that the school really is not to blame for these new stadards. They are working the best they can to make the most of the guidelines in quantity and quality. To some extent their hands are tied, but their voices do not have to be muffled. I will also say that a nutrition program will NEVER meet the needs of all our kids, but it has to be better than what it has been turned into. For some of the students in our schools, lunch (and sometimes breakfast) is the only "meal" they receive. I will also share that I HATE the limits on calories and protein. I LOVE the increase in fruits and veggie option (whole grain as well), but hate that they have to take a specified amount and that a large amount is being thrown away.

Interestingly enough, many kids didn't eat healthy under the old plan and still aren't with the new. Kids used to be able to get by with milk, croutons, and shredded cheese. Now they can pass with milk, a serving of veggie or fruit (which can be thrown away), whole-grain croutons, and shredded cheese. The only difference is their lack of ability to go back for seconds of cheese and croutons in this situation, or milk, breads and proteins in the general sense. We just have more being thrown away and kids that are still not eating balanced meals and/ or leaving with full bellies and are not able to perform to the best of their ability.

Here is a parady video that helps exemplify some of the results of the new meal plan implementation.
"We Are Hungry" Youtube video created by a school or group in Kansas to express the need to amend the new standards and share some of the impact of the ones recently inacted.

I have been fortunate enough to spend time in several different capacities in numerous schools partaking in school lunch on a regular basis, as well as be a "hot lunch kid" growning up. I didn't have the option to pack a lunch when I was in school and as an adult in the schools and as mom, I love the convienence of school lunch.

Sensible School Lunches on Facebook is a resource with lunch ideas, up to date information and dialogue. It is worth checking out and "liking"! It helps me keep up to speed with ideas for snack, packing lunches when needed and what is happening with the new nutrition standards that are part of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.

A lot of the hussle and bussle regarding this Act comes from kids, parents and those working in the schools. But even state leaders in agriculture care about good nutrition and a student's ability to perform in school. They know that kids need certain nutritional components and quantities that are different than what is allowable currently. Ag Commissioner, Doug Goehring, urged leaders from all 50 states to oppose the guidelines. Click here to read the press release regarding this action.

Change is never easy and I work to not jump on a bandwagon for or against anything, but when I am not happy after waiting for a while I look for a way to make things better. Below is a link to Wag'n Tales where one mom ran out of answers about the change in the lunch program for her son so they asked someone who should know, the US Secretary of Agriculture.

A 10-year old's letter to Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, about school lunch.

If you want to share your insight, questions, comments and concerns regarding the new meal patterns please do so. No voice is too big or too small to make a difference!

To make your voice heard contact:
Undersecretary of Food & Nutrition Services
Kevin Concannon
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250
Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250

Here are a few pictures of notes and drawings students have done to share their thoughts about the new meal patterns for school lunch.

** Frame 1: students go through lunch line. Frame 2: go to their cars. Frame 3: drive to gas station and go in. Frame 4: Come out of station with snacks and soda. Frame 5: People tell the lunch ladies that they hate the school food and the lunch ladies are sad.

"This lunch is Bulls*** I don't get enough food and I don't have enough time to go home and have a good meal."

"I do not believe the school lunch program is a good thing. Students with their own money can walk up town and get their own meal. The school's lunch doesn't taste very good, and there isn't very large amounts. For people with a larger appetite such as myself, I believe people who need to eat more, deserve more to eat. Some people go through the day hungry because of the small portions of food. And why limit what we can eat, when there are large amounts of leftovers being thrown into the trash and going to waste, If I didn't live the distance from school as I do now, I would go home and eat so I could feel full and not hungry and miserable. There is no point in limiting our hot lunch when after school we can stuff our faces at home. The program should be tossed out and the school board should listen to what the students want and what will fill them up and not be hungry."

We all have an opinion and want what is best. Share your thoughts and let others know that hungry kids are not happy kids. Therefore their parents, siblings,teachers and all others are not either! We want kids to know and practice good eating and exercise habits for lifelong well-being! Please let those who can make a difference know that you care! THANKS!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Cleaning Fairy

On most days I wish for a cleaning fairy. With 5 kids, a crazy schedule, a farm and a puppy nothing is ever clean and sometimes not even tidy. I dream of the cleaning fairy.... one that does not judge you, you do not have to pick up for, will come instantly when called, and gets the stuff out of the corners and behind the toilets that tend to be a bit scary.

Well, my second to youngest decided that she would try to help me out when I dodged out of the kitchen for a quick trip to the bathroom BY MYSELF :) My oldest daughter had made watermelon juice and melon slime for snack after her dance practice. ( Yippee- one less thing to tackle before heading to church school.)

It was fresh from the garden and kinda a fun, but messy project. She ended up getting a "few" seeds on the floor. So I asked her to clean it up when she was done. I then made my dash to the restroom, got side tracked and picked up a few things on the way and when I returned I was greeted with , "I'm helping Libby. She wanted to go downstairs." I looked and she was washing the floor.

I noticed the rag was wet and asked if she did that herself. She proudly said that she had and that the pink water smelled so good and was easy to get. She exclaimed, "I did it by myself. Now the floor smells good and not like puppy." I fought back tears and a desire to scream. I simply smiled and let her know that "see-through" water is for the floor. Pink yummy water is juice to drink. She was a bit sad and said, " I was being a big kid. I like to help. Next time can I use this?" and walks over to the pantry and grabs the non-stick spray. " It helps keep things from sticking just like the pancakes." Her smile was back and all I could do was say, "Mom will wash the floor.

You take these (cleaning wipes) and wipe the cupboards." And so we began the next round of cleaning and my dream of the non-judgemental cleaning fairly was more alive than ever!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall Has Fallen

It is not official yet, but Fall has fallen. Afternoons are beautiful, the air is crisp and although we have not had our first hard frost, there have been a few mornings that the low areas were shall I say "frost-y". So, what does this mean for me... it means packing a few seasons worth of gear for my oldest's football games, it means it is harder for me to get up in the early morning when it is dark, it means I want to go to bed earlier because it is dark earlier,
it means our corn and soybeans are ready for harvest,it means the air conditioner has been turned off and it also means that the heat gets turned on for a bit in the mornings to take the chill out of the air. Despite all this and more, the falling of Fall means that it is time to harvest the last of the garden goodies.
For those who have visited my home and have seen my garden it is big, but not large. Each year I experiment with several different fruits and veggies and plant around the 2 apple trees growing on one side. This year I was fortunate to have most of my plants grow,some almost too well, and provide goodies for my family, extended family, friends and our local school hot lunch program. It also provided most of the snacks during the summer for my kids. When they were hungry, they went to the garden instead of the pantry. My snack expense for June and July was next to nothing... YAH HOO!
I have come to enjoy most of the work that my garden takes. My entire family has fun planting the seeds and seedlings, watching it grow and eating from it. But I have to admit, that Fall is the hardest time of the gardening season for me. With the cooler temps it is not as inviting to spend time removing plants and collecting the last of the colorful produce.Chopping, dicing, canning and freezing odds and ends takes more time too due to the small batches of many different things. I also need to find a place in my freezer and pantry to store the last few bags and jars. Sometimes it is a tight squeeze, but by summer there always seems to be lots of room. This means we enjoyed all the work all winter and spring and kept our tastebuds and tummies full with flavorful, healthy food! Gardening is good, even when Fall is falling!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Do The Kids Get It?

It has been a long time I since I took time to write and I have had good intentions, but never put those intentions into action. Today just seems like the right time to get going again... I admit that I am hooked on Facebook, that I like to watch junk TV and I get wound up over things that I should let go. Sometimes my priorities are all mixed up and I choose to do "fun" things or more things less well than a few things timely and complete. Our farming lifestyle is very different than how I grew up in Minneapolis, but I wouldn't change it for the world. We don't keep the same schedule as many of our kids' friends parents, sometimes our 5 kids are limited as to what they can do because I am only one person and can only run in so many directions at one time and other times they are blessed with oppotunities that many children do not have. I constantly struggle with the idea of "do they understand". Today, as I sat to work on the "kid computer" in the kitchen while I wait for the dishwasher to finish so I can get my canning jars out and get busy making spaghetti sauce, I came across this document open and started by my 11 year old.... I think they do understand what our life can give them.
That what they may give up at times leads to gaining things that others will never have or perhaps even know they are missing. It was this beginning of a powerpoint that made me proud of all that I have come to love, the family I have and the hard work my husband, our employees and all that have come before us have put forth so we can lead the next generation into a life of honesty, hard work, belief, creativity, problem solving and prosperity.
"And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Mark 4:8-9