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School Lunches

Original post made by PV Parent, Palo Verde, on Apr 16, 2007

Since the new "healthy" lunches are not popular and running at a loss, coupled with the fact that childhood obesity is rampant, what should PAUSD do about lunches?

I have spent many lunch hours at school and see what is going on. Healthy lunches are thrown away untouched while those with unhealthy multipacks of snacks share around. The recent changes to Chartwells have not made the school lunches popular with the kids and the abundance of junk food brought in by the kids is amazing. I have seen lunchables, large bags of chips, cookies, etc. shared around the tables. I know my child often comes home with his lunch untouched because he says it was someone's birthday and he ate too many cupcakes!! I try to do my part and I know many parents do too.

This is a two pronged problem. Do we want the district to provide lunches and if so what? How can we get the junk food brought in by many kids banned?

Comments (51)

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2007 at 11:20 am

Contract out to McD's or some one else who has learned to cater to the young. The concept of junk food is an elitist term that may kill any chance of developing the judgement an adult needs. I am only grateful they don't try to spin organic at the kids. Sometimes a Big Mac is just what the doctor ordered.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 16, 2007 at 11:25 am

PV Parent

A direct solution would be to have a physical fitness requirement in order to graduate. Strong body, strong mind is a good educational goal. Let the kids eat what they want, but assure them that they will not get a high school diploma if they cannot run the mile in a reasonable time period, do X situps, pull ups in one minute, etc. I think you would see a near-radical change in eating habits!


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2007 at 12:13 pm

According to my son, who is not a picky eater at all and eats mostly healthy foods, the "healthy" school lunches taste terrible.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2007 at 12:21 pm

The absolute last thing I would support is telling me what I may or may not pack in my kid's lunches. It is my job to teach him appropriate values concerning food, not the school's job to ban this or that.

I second the parent above. I have a kid who will eat anything, including any pizza any day for any meal..but who won't touch the "healthy" pizza and pasta at school lunches because they "taste bad".

Until the food tastes good again, I make his lunch.

And take walks and ride bikes and play basketbal with him etc, so that he learns appropriate eating and physical behaviors by example, not dicatate.


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Posted by DJ
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 16, 2007 at 12:54 pm

The school lunches taste horrendous .. I am not surprised that the program didn't go into a loss sooner than this ...

I happened to be in school at lunch time one day, when my kid had chosen to get the Chicken Nuggets from the menu .. the nuggets were cold, almost had a rubber like consistency and overall were just not edible. The pizzas, burgers are no different. They include "veggies" on the menu -for the longest time I have seen carrots.

Make these lunches more appetizing, make sure they are served warm and I am sure the program will pick up.

As a working parent, I would much rather have my child eat a warm lunch at school. I am not bent on "organic"; the "most healthy" - as long as it is reasonable; I am ok with it.

This being said - like the original poster, I am appaled at seeing what the children bring to school. I saw a kid bring a h-u-g-e bag of chips one day - for snack and lunch. Yes, the rest of the class shared - but I could not help wondering what the parents were thinking when they got this bag of chips for school snack/lunch.

I strongly feel that the children are not encouraged to eat their food. This again boils down to the hands-off approach that the school takes: We will not tell you what to do; Cause if we do, the parents will get back to us right away saying that you are taking away our child's individuality.

When my child was in Kindergarten, they had a supervised lunch time. There was one lunch-teacher who made sure the children finished 50% or more from their lunch box. Ofcourse, my child hated this - since it cut into the play time, but I really appreciated it.

Make the children sit down at the table for a certain amount of time - thats the first thing. Make a rule that they have to eat if not all, some part of what they bring from home and make sure they don't throw the rest of the food away !! Has anyone seen the trash cans at the school right after lunch????


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Posted by Andrew L. Freedman
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 16, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Hi all,

When I went to Wilbur ('69), the snackbar served Sourdough French bread at brunch, dripping with REAL butter, for about a nickle a slice. The vending machines were filled with "junk" food.

However, PE was mandatory and there was not the amount of obesity in children back then.

I still eat whatever I want (and, admitingly, I'm one of those lucky ones) and weight in under 130 (I'm 5'7").

Physical fitness, at any age, is a very important part of being healthy. I hate to use the phrase, but, back when I went to PAUSD, everyone was required to pass the physical fitness requirements that were set by the Kennedy Administration. This included pull-ups, sit-ups and a run. I recall being tested in the 5th grade at the original Herbert Hoover Elementary School. Those who couldn't pass needed to get a waiver from their physician. At the very least their physician would know that their patient was unable to pass the test and make recommendations, accordingly.

Does anyone know if physical fitness testing is still a requirement within the PAUSD?

Andy



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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2007 at 2:55 pm

Make them sit? We have a volunteer here for lunchroom duty. I know the teachers will be broken hearted to have this duty taken from them, but they might sell tickets to watch what happens when you try this eat by the numbers routine.
It is possible to prepare nutritious, tasty meals. It is also possible, as some mess sergeants proved back in my day, to take the finest ingredients and convert them to land fill rejects.
I sentence DJ to a week of tofurkey with brussel sprout stuffing. Eat every bite or no desert - we're having candied grits.


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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 16, 2007 at 3:07 pm

It took one time of seeing the food options that were made available to my childern, if they bought lunch, to decide to get up early and make lunches for them. How did I ensure they ate the lunch? I included them in the decision of what went into the bag. If they stopped eating something, we switched to something they would eat.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 16, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Current projection: one of three children currently of school age will suffer from diabetes. We have failed to appropriately educate parents, and children, about nutrition.

Anyone complaining about the cost of health care should take a serious look at pro-active nutritional activities and daily exercise as #1 and 2 on the list of things to do to reduce those costs (long term).

A trip throup a local Safeway, and many other markets will prove my point. Just the cereal aisle alone is a huge representative of the sad state of nutritional awareness in American parents. Those cereals (and that's most of them) that are little more than "candy flakes" are there because people buy them.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2007 at 4:54 pm

Has the BOE ever eaten lunch at any of the schools?


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Posted by Fitness Idea
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 16, 2007 at 7:11 pm

The PE teachers need to run their students more. At other middle schools, at least a third of the period is spent on running. Having encouraging PE teachers is another plus. Get the kids involved in after school sports. Have them run some more.

Of course, if Palo Alto PE teachers tried to do this, a huge number of the infamous Palo Alto Parents would attempt to waive their kids out of the running on a daily basis. I've seen it happen before and it would happen again.

On a side note, you can't expect a public school to be responsible for a child's physical education. Spending 40 minutes in PE four times a week isn't enough to put the responsibility on the school. If parents -really- cared about this issue, they'd "encourage" their kids to exercise on their own time and serve better meals in the home.

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've seen an angry parent complain about their child not getting enough exercise at school and then later seen them at In & Out getting their child enough fat grams for a week. It's a joke.


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Posted by From a Different Thread...
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 16, 2007 at 7:18 pm

At some middle schools in the Bay Area, the PTA takes care of the food service. They offer different meals for each day, sells at pretty low prices, and has parent volunteers sell the food each day.




The food is pretty cheap, but the PTA still makes a significant profit. From my experience, kids gladly wait in line for subways, pizza, tacos, salads, and chicken selects. It's only about a 10 minute process for the kids at the end of the line, although it really depends on how many parent volunteers you have each day.




The PTA I know literally cleans up on serving lunch, making tens of thousands of dollars. It all goes back to the teachers and thus the students.




Thoughts?


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2007 at 7:24 pm

Teach them to read and they will make their own judgement about diets.


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Posted by Same Cloth
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Apr 16, 2007 at 7:43 pm

Different Thread, can you please provide more details, it sounds like an interesting proposal. Plus, if PTA takes care of food service, it would mean more parent involvement in planning the meals.

If I ate the meals served at school every day for a week, I'd be sick. That's the primary reason we don't use the food service. A lot of the moms in our classroom feed their kids after school -- my kid won't eat either what we send (no matter how favored) or what the school serves anyway, apparently it detracts too much from playtime.

No matter how good or bad the school fare, there will always be kids who won't eat what is served. When I was a kid, at least those of us who did eat were served a balanced hot meal.

Our teacher has made an effort to encourage healthy foods brought for snacks. Sweets in the classroom have mostly been banned, except on very special occasions. It has been a relief for the parents, and the kids are plenty happy. No obese kids, either, and only one I would call chubby out of 20. Not the norm these days.


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Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 16, 2007 at 8:23 pm

Getting the kids to exercise is only part of the problem. Grades 1 - 3 have pe once a week and often the amount of actual exercise is questionnable although they may be learning to throw a ball or other skill, or play a game, which may or may not involve spending a lot of time waiting for your turn to bat or the ball to come near you. No, as much as I like the idea of saying that pe should give exercise to the kids, it is not the whole answer. Lifestyles have to be modified. After school activities must include exercise (dance, or sport) but also we must stop driving our kids everywhere. We should get them into the habit of walking, or biking, to get to where they are going. In our house, we walk 1/2 mile to school and bike 1 1/2 to middle school and 3 miles to high school. This is a healthy mindset and any exercise after this is a bonus.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2007 at 8:46 pm

wealthy commumity
cheap food
here in america, we can't seem to figure out how to feed the kiddies-
what is so difficult about this? we can put a man on the moon, but can't come up with a simple solution to this predicament? Sounds like quite a dilemna. One thing is for sure, are students will not starve. Why not keep it simple. Burritos, either with meat or without, chicken sandwich, hamburger, frankfurters, corndogs, and you can always have some thing like cereal and milk, imagine that, because kids eat it around the clock, this should not be such a big deal. Figure it out. Ever been to a baseball game or to a taqueria? Cheese casadillas? If parents want them to eat veggies, they should probably do it on their own, for every one's sake. Ever heard of yogurt? It ain't rocket science, and it should not be the p.e. teachers responsibility to keep them totally fit. If you are counting on that, then your kidding yourself. Why not conduct a poll, take a survey?


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Posted by Same Cloth
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Apr 16, 2007 at 10:13 pm

The purpose of PE is not to provide all the physical activity kids need in a day, it's to provide them with EDUCATION about different kinds of physical activities and sports, so they can do them outside of school. (Same like all other kinds of education.) They should be learning by doing in PE, so they will get activity, but we are failing our kids if the only thing we do is have them run. They already know how to do that. Bring back real PE.


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Posted by Different Thread
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 16, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Same Cloth,

Re: "Different Thread, can you please provide more details, it sounds like an interesting proposal. Plus, if PTA takes care of food service, it would mean more parent involvement in planning the meals."

It would take just a few phone calls to other schools in the Santa Clara or San Mateo counties to see if their PTA is responsible for the daily food service. I know of at least one school where it happens and works successfully. Extremely successfully, to be honest.

The main reason the food service division is losing money in PAUSD is the cost of labor. Take that part out as well as the purchasing, shipping, making, serving, etc issues and you can't help but turn a profit.


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Posted by PE
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 16, 2007 at 10:27 pm

If you want kids to be in shape due to their experiences in PE, you need to have them run. You need to motivate them to participate in after school sports. You need to PUSH them hard but in a supportive manner.

If you want to "educate" them on paddle tennis for 40 minutes a day four times a week, go for it. I just don't think we're going to have a 7th grader take up paddle tennis and become fit in doing so.

Look at the other schools Palo Alto Middle Schools compete with in their athletic league. Look at the schools that do well in Track and Cross Country. Find out how it works and try to implement it in Palo Alto.

That said, as I previously mentioned, Palo Alto Parents won't go for it. They'll set up a committee to talk about it... which will lead to a year's worth of meetings and a "final report" to present to the board... and they'll form a committee to talk about it... which will lead to a year's worth of meetings and a 2nd "final report" and eventually someone will say "it's not the PA way" based on the vocal minority.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 4:03 pm

To expect the students to run every day for p.e. is just impractical.
Anyone who suggests that they do so hasn't spent much time at school.
The students would never go for it, only a select few, and you might as well
realize that it's not the schools responsibility to keep them fit. There are
many reasons for over weight students, and i strongly disagree that not forcing
them to run is the biggie. DIET AND LIFESTYLE PLAY A MUCH GREATER ROLE!
To not realize this is slowing things down.


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Posted by Same Cloth
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Apr 17, 2007 at 5:01 pm

"You want to "educate" them on paddle tennis for 40 minutes a day four times a week, go for it. I just don't think we're going to have a 7th grader take up paddle tennis and become fit in doing so."

I guess it's been awhile since we had real PE in school! The second word in PE is "education"! Is paddle tennis the only thing you can think of? And by the way, table tennis is great exercise. But yes, you'd bore kids silly if that's all you taught.

How about the many basic ball sports (okay, we'll just ban dodge ball ;-) ), tennis, all the swimming sports, basketball, baseball, soccer, gymnastics, dancing (folk, swing, contemporary, etc. -- yes, the younger students go "ewww" but they're usually secretly glad to know how to dance for real and it's fantastic exercise), numerous track and field sports, volleyball, badminton, field trips to ice rinks for skating, broom hockey, hockey, field trips for sailing, etc., etc. Not to mention very basic physical education skills like stretching, rope climbing, jump rope (which can get very sophisticated), calisthenics, etc. I'm sure the current PE teachers know more up to date things like pilates and even yoga. Getting kids comfortable with all the many sports available is the first step to getting them involved.


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Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 17, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Same Cloth

A lot of the suggestions you made are actually what pe is about. However, even doing some of these sports, e.g. baseball (or kickball as they modify it) involves plenty of standing around and not much running. Yes, I want the pe program we have and more, but it isn't just down to pe. We can't expect the pe teachers to make up for what we are not doing. We need to get our kids involved in activities that involve exercise and then we need them to get out of our cars and walk or bike to and from school and other events.

Then, we also need to watch what we feed them. I have a fair amount of control over what my kids eat at home. What I don't have control over is what they eat at school or elsewhere. Yes I can give them a healthy lunch, but I can't make them eat it. Not when there are chips being passed round the lunch table on a daily basis and cup cakes turning up for someone's birthday, or they win the tidy table competition, or any number of reasons for bringing junk food into the classrooms.


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Posted by PE
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 17, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Same Cloth,

I must ask how many hours you've spent in the past two decades watching what takes place in physical education at our middle and high schools.

I know from personal experience as a student, substitute teacher, and observer.

I encourage you to watch PE at the middle school level sometime. Go watch a game of soccer. Of the 10-20 kids on each team, you'll see maybe a total of 10 actively participating. The other 20-30 kids are talking, socializing, and dreading every moment the ball starts rolling to them. This is PE in Palo Alto.

It's the same for most, if not all, sports.

I do agree that you need to get kids involved... I just wish people would see what's working at other middle schools before asking for ideas. Do some research. Look at who's winning the cross country and track meets... ask yourself why they're winning instead of Palo Alto? The answer I've found is that their students run more during PE.


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Posted by Response
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 17, 2007 at 5:27 pm

Your Comment: "To expect the students to run every day for p.e. is just impractical. Anyone who suggests that they do so hasn't spent much time at school. The students would never go for it, only a select few, and you might as well realize that it's not the schools responsibility to keep them fit. There are many reasons for over weight students, and i strongly disagree that not forcing them to run is the biggie. DIET AND LIFESTYLE PLAY A MUCH GREATER ROLE!"

First of all, it's not impractical. It happens at other middle and high schools in the Bay Area. These are the schools winning the track and cross country meets with HUGE numbers of participating students, some of whom would never consider joining if not for the support of their PE teachers.

Second, I've spent more time "at school" in the past 25 years than 99% of the people posting on this forum... maybe more. I have the full range of experience in almost every role possible.

Third, and this may come as a surprise to you, it's not up to the students if they run or not. It's what the PE department chooses to do based on their fitness standards. If you, as a parent, want to excuse your child from running, that's up to you. Of course, please note the lesson you're teaching your child.

Fourth, I agree that it is NOT the school's responsibility to make a child "fit" but I do think it's part of our social responsibility as human beings to help our youth learn how to best provide for themselves in a healthy fashion. This is why we mandate living skills at the high school level. This is why we encourage healthy eating through all grades. This is why we spend time on learning about nutrition in school. We need to guide them, but yes, the ultimate decision to be healthy is on them (and also through their parents).

Fifth, it's not about "forcing" them to run. There will be some students that resist (it is Palo Alto, after all) but with a solid PE department and students realizing that they can meet their goals, it becomes less and less of an issue.

Finally, research some schools in the Bay Area where running is a part of the PE philosophy. See how they do it. See what PAUSD can "copy" from their program. Make a recommendation.

But please don't say that it won't work when I've seen it happen before.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2007 at 5:35 pm

Other schools don't have successful sports teams because they make they make kids run during PE! They have better sports teams because they put more emphasis on sports and sports participation overall, and those communities put more emphasis on sports at home.

We play softball against other communities who's girls are playing all year round, who are in camps, who have professional level coaches coaching their after school teams, who devote their extra hours to club teams, etc.

Do you know who we have coaching our after school teams at the middle school level? High school kids or college students. Its called el-cheapo sports programming. Why? Because the community isn't placing a high priority on sports. Its purely 'recreational' sports attitude in Palo Alto.

Running in PE is not going to change anythign expect turn kids off of PE by boring them to tears (and making them sweat in the process). Its an emphasis on athletics in the community overall that would make the difference.

That is - if competitive athletics kids is what you value.

Our community chooses afterschool language, music, and math tutoring instead. We have mathaletes. So we have kids who are mediocre in sports, and kids who are bored with running around. That's the equation.

It comes down to putting your money and your time -as a community- where your mouth is.

(This is where a community wide strategic priority process would help - do we, or do we not value athletics? Sports? PE?


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Posted by Same Cloth
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Apr 17, 2007 at 5:40 pm

PV Parent and PE,
I'm not disagreeing with either of you, I wholeheartedly agree with everything PV Parent said (PV Parent, you should reread what I wrote, we seem to be on the same wavelength). The purpose of PE is not to provide the sum of activity kids get in a day. The purpose of PE is to educate kids about sports and physical activities. And you learn physical activity by doing physical activity. but it's not going to give every kid the workout they need.

I'm not disagreeing with you, either, PE -- I am a runner myself. We had real PE when I was in school, and no matter what we did we started with stretching and laps. It's good for kids to get physical activity during PE, I'm not arguing that, but I think the basic role of PE is to give kids an education about sports.

Some of what you describe is just because kids are kids. Naturally, there are good and bad PE teachers, and good and bad environments to encourage participation.

Palo Alto schools tend to be very academic. I don't think it's necessarily a bad sign that we aren't winning cross country and track meets. I personally think it's very important that schools sponsor intermural sports where most students feel welcome to participate and that are fun. If we happen to be a school system where kids think that's more important, then that's okay. It's also important to have competitive teams for students who are talented athletically. If you want to address the sports needs of the broadest segment of student population, you've got to have both. In PE, everyone is lumped together -- a very smart PE teacher knows how to make the most of that. Not easy with pre-teens and adolescents, and you'll never get perfect. Anyone who works with kids knows that. I wouldn't hold them to a standard of ensuring every child got their daily dose of exercise.

If you want to get more kids more involved in PE team activities, that's a psychological issue more than anything else.


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Posted by Response
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 17, 2007 at 8:31 pm

I am more concerned with my two daughters developing anorexia or bulima than diabetes. All parents in Palo Alto should be. Parents need to take responsibility for their own children.


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Posted by PE
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 17, 2007 at 8:35 pm

I hear you, "Same Cloth" and am listening to what you have to say.

I just know from personal experience (1st hand and through observations/conversations) that while kids may oppose having 10 minutes of running instead of "touch the goal post 40 yards away and come back", they'll be more appreciate of the experience once they see the results.

If the issue is whether or not kids should run for 10-15 minutes in PE, I'm of the group that says "yes". I respect others opinions that say no. Just don't put the responsibility on PAUSD to get your kids in shape. If it happens through education and an introduction to "sports" that's great. If not, oh well.

Other schools don't have better track teams because they put more emphasis on sports. Trust me... if you saw the kids that went out for track at some of these schools, you'd smirk. There's a lot of learning that goes on in after school sports... some positive, some not-so-much. If we want our kids to be healthy and do better in school, it all starts with motivation in PE and, in my opinion, running/exercise.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2007 at 9:50 pm

while same cloth makes some good points, and appears to be extremely concerned about
the physical fitness of the local youngsters, and this is admirable, it also appears that maybe you have spent a little too much time on campus, as you claim to be the resident expert, and that you would like to abolish, once and for all, paddle ball or whatever it was, and it almost sounds like one of those kids who complain about not liking it either, almost like a whine, and is it really that big of a deal, our we doing such a disservice to the kids, will they suffer life long debilitations due to their second rate paddle ball course, almost sounds trivial, i know, but it seems as though if you want to really do something about it you should not just substitute and complain, but become the greatest pe teacher we have ever seen, i think many of them do a fine job, they are good people, who have positive inter-actions with the students, and it's not all about boot camp. give the teachers some credit, remember, anybody can substitute and be a critic.


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Posted by PE
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 18, 2007 at 7:08 am

RE: Anonymous

It's not about Paddle Ball. I like the sport. It's not about having poor PE teachers in PAUSD. The ones I know are top-rate and underappreciated. It is about adding 10 minutes of -exercise- to PE each day to help kids get into shape and learn to appreciate the results from exercise. That's all it's about.

Some schools do it and earn awards for their healthy kids. Some schools focus on failed Mandarin programs and bus routes to Gunn instead. To each their own.


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Posted by anon.
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2007 at 9:36 am

very well then, thanks for your comments, really, they waste ten minutes every day suiting up you know?


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Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 18, 2007 at 9:49 am

I just want to say that I don't disagree with anything that has been said, particularly about pe. I have seen some things happen which I do disagree with which I will mention.

I have one child who is bright and likes to read. One of her teachers wanted to encourage her class to read and keep records of what they read. If they didn't do that, then she would keep them in at recess to read. My child was smart enough to realise that if she didn't fill in the record, she could stay in every recess and read rather than play outside which she did not like to do. I had to point this out to the teacher who hadn't realised what she was doing. I like my daughter reading and she does plenty of that. What I wanted was her to play outside for exercise at recess. This was something she wasn't getting enough of.

I am at Palo Verde most mornings. I see so many kids arriving, sleepy eyed, getting out of their cars, breakfast in hand, dawdling to the classrooms. These kids are not ready to sit still in a classroom and learn anything. Some of the teachers actually realise this and send the whole class to run around the field before they actualy sit down for a lesson. Some teachers allow the kids into the classrooms as soon as they arrive, 8.00 or whatever, and they still don't wake up. Some let them play outside til the very last minute. I feel sure that the ones who are ready to learn are those who have had some activity, they are wide awake and they have got rid of the wiggles. These kids must do much better in the classroom than those who start the day barely awake. It is nothing to do with how much sleep they have had, what time they went to bed, but plenty to do with what they have done after they wake up.


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Posted by Jamie Oliver fan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2007 at 5:01 pm

To pull the discussion back to school lunch briefly, given that Palo Alto has students who qualify for a free or reduced cost lunch, the school district has a moral obligation to serve a lunch that is edible.


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Posted by Lorraine
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 18, 2007 at 6:25 pm

Sorry, but I had to laugh at a quote from Matranga in this morning's PA Daily. He suggested that the district could expand it's revenues by branching into catering or preparing meals for other school districts. Now I ask you, if we can't provide edible lunches for our own students, why would we inflict our food on other districts and expect to be paid for it? Come on PAUSD staff; it's been a year of unimpressive reports and recommendations. We should be doing better than this. I hope the BOE requires more of the staff and themselves this time around.


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Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Apr 18, 2007 at 6:33 pm

Someone asked if the BoE had ever eaten the school lunches. I ask the question do any of the elementary teachers eat the school lunches? I ask this because it seems to me that the general consensus is that these lunches are bad and if the teachers as adult role modes are not eating the lunches, then how can we expect the children to eat them.


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Posted by PE
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 18, 2007 at 6:36 pm

The lunches served by PAUSD are "edible" and sometimes aren't bad. I wouldn't pay money for them, but if I'm starving and can't get off campus, I'll have a salad or one of those fake processed chicken patties.

Instead of expanding, they should involve PTA and allow each school's PTA to use lunch as a fundraiser. Kids will eat Subways and Tacos and such. The PTA will make a fortune. I've seen it happen.

And those kids with free/reduced lunch will receive tickets that they can use as cash at the lunch lines. Same thing as now.


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Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2007 at 7:44 pm

PE

Thanks for your input. Do you teach at a middle, high, or elementary school. From your earlier posts, I think it must be middle. I don't know much about middle and high school lunches, but I don't think there is anything like a salad at elementary school. I would love to hear from an elementary teacher about what they think of the elementary lunches.


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Posted by PE
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 18, 2007 at 10:40 pm

I cannot speak to Elementary Lunches in PAUSD. I have much experience with high school and middle school lunch time offerings.


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Posted by Workingmom
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 19, 2007 at 2:20 am

Quite frankly, I don't see why it is so difficult to make a healthy lunch at home which your child does eat and enjoys - a hot lunch at that as well. i have been doing that every single day - it just takes a little more time. Kids are involved in the process - we make a weekly menu - they let me know what they want each day - certain restrictions apply - like no cake or chocolate - and something that isn't elaborate. When they have something warm, they take it in their food thermos, accompanied by yoghurt/milk/fruit of their choice. It seems to work just fine in spite of kids around bringing chips as someone said in an earlier posting. We have been working on it for the past three years though, talking about the different nutritional contents in foods, what's healthy, what's not, etc. and that has certainly played a large role.


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Posted by Another PV parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 19, 2007 at 2:37 am


PV parent:

My son regularly eats the hot lunch served at Palo Verde. There is always a salad. Since he likes salad he gets it and eats it every time. So the answer to your answer is YES they do serve salad every day with hot lunch at Palo Verde, and thus probably at other elementary schools as well.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 19, 2007 at 9:12 am

It is definitely right that the two high schools should be treated differently when it comes to lunches. I now have my second child at Paly. Both of them take lunches most days, but sometimes they want to go off campus to T & C with friends. Sometimes, they have taken something to microwave in either the choir room or the math center. They have never had to eat at the student center for lunch and say that their friends don't eat there either. I feel sure that whatever is available there is used by a small section of the Paly community and I suspect mainly by those on the reduced lunch programs or who have little money to spend on lunch. Although I do not give my kids much money for lunch, they have found a way at T & C to get lunch "bargains" e.g. french bread and ranch dressing for $1.

These sort of options are not available to Gunn students and it would make sense to do something more attractive for teenagers there. A subway or build your own burrito bar would make a lot of sense but it would have to be designed to move the students through fast.

My kids have so much to do at lunch times that buying lunch for them takes too much time. If the lines were shorter then the option of buying lunch at school would be more attractive to them. I would rather they eat lunch from home, but I know that socially having lunch with friends the way they eat is really the deciding factor.


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Posted by Same Cloth
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Apr 19, 2007 at 11:42 am

Most really young kids in elementary do not eat salad, though it is on the menu. Middle school and high school must be different, because the elementary school lunches I see are not that healthy. Pizza, sloppy joes, tater tots, or something on that order, every day. Once in awhile it's okay, but if I ate like that every day, I'd be sick. If my kid ate like that every day, we'd have to get a prescription for ritalin and zyrtec from the pediatrician.

There are logistical problems, since we do not have a cafeteria on site. Food is brought in from elsewhere.

If the cost problems are labor, PTA running school lunches turn a profit as Different Thread has suggested -- but it would take a pretty organized effort.


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Posted by Same Cloth
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Apr 19, 2007 at 11:51 am

Private schools in my day solved this problem by making everyone buy into the food service. Whether kids ate or not was up to them (usually a function of family values). The food was generally good, hot, balanced nutritionally.

I have also attended a public school (not affluent) where the meals were very good to excellent (nutritionally and appeal-wise) and one where the meals made McDonalds look like a health spa - the kids organized and demanded salads - both schools had a very high percentage of subsidized meals.

The values of the community play a role. Parents should decide what kids eat; kids should decide how much.


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Posted by Voice Reporter
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 19, 2007 at 12:28 pm

Here's a story on Voice (the Paly online newssource) about the possible changes in the food service at Paly. Web Link


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Posted by PV Parent
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Apr 19, 2007 at 1:06 pm

Well done Paly, a nice article.

Is there a link to one from Gunn someone please?


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Posted by Meghan
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 19, 2007 at 2:05 pm

Honestly, you talk about the "healthy food". Trust me, as a high schooler this food isn't healthy neither is it in any way edible. The most purchased food is Mrs. Field's cookies, most of which are big fat globs of fatty dough. The pizza is a nightmare, the cheese is plastic, the salads are a joke, and the so called "bread sticks" are stuffed with five hundred calories worth of mozzerella cheese. But really, do you think McDonalds would be any better? If people are serious about wanting to get us healthy try contracting out to places like Whole Foods and Piazzas. Kids are willing to spend 4 dollars on a frappacino. You think we wouldn't be willing to shell out for a decent lunch?


Most of the time my friends and I skip lunch at school and head to piazzas to buy sushi or actually edible food.


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Posted by Same Cloth
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Apr 19, 2007 at 11:32 pm

Now there's an idea -- why don't we have a sushi vendor sell sushi at the high schools? Profits would be split the way they are with the vendors that make sushi at the local markets.


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Posted by 2 $hort
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 20, 2007 at 10:13 am

I would pay at the most $7 for my meal. Maybe they should increase the prices. My friends are rich.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 20, 2007 at 11:07 am

How about letting the high school students design their lunch program.
Maybe they will
1. Decide that they don't want it, no matter what.
2. Find a way to design a menu that has wide appeal.
3. Be forced to realize that some kids don't have a lot of money to spend on lunches and address their needs in a realistic way. This may raise some consciousness.
4. Find creative solutions with a cost neutral or positive cash flow goal.
5. Gain knowledge about profit and loss, nutrition, phsycology and so on.
6. Buy into an outcome in which they have ownership.

Surely this project would fit into the curriculum somewhere. Sounds like some opportunity for skill building on many levels and in many areas.



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Posted by Carol
a resident of Palo Verde School
on May 9, 2007 at 9:13 am

Last night the Board voted to raise the price of school lunches and elementary lunch will cost $3.50 next year and possibly raised another 50c. Jerry Matranga suggested that the lunches should be ordered at roll time and the appropriate number of lunches ordered to avoid the terrible waste that appears to be happening. Chartwells will still provide the lunches.

If this is something that makes sense, then we should let our PTAs know and give some feedback to the District. The PTAs should get involved in this lunch situation.


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Posted by A Parent
a resident of Midtown
on May 9, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Aren't there other school districts in the country that have faced this problem? I get the feeling we are reinventing the wheel.
How hard is it to create healthy food that children will eat? Some of us do it all the time. Just one example, meatless meatballs with tomato sauce (or whatever) is tasty and low fat. And healthy delicious bread.

For that matter, I don't understand why the libraries serve sugary, cheesefilled treats to children. Come to think of it why do they serve food at all. It teaches the wrong thing. Better give the kids the money that the food costs, if we need to bribe them to attend.


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