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More about the child nutrition legislation from an MNB user:

There are many children that receive free lunch, they are not getting them free because their parents did not feel like making them a meal, they are getting them free because for whatever reason their family needs some financial support right now. For many of those kids, that hot lunch is the best meal they are going to get all day long. I have seen many articles that have pointed out poorer families generally don’t eat as well simply because they do not have the resources and sometimes the time to plan the traditional family dinner. Many of the kids will go home from school and their parent(s) will be at work, sometimes going to a second job and the kids will have to feed themselves. So keeping in mind that these children are the future is it not a better idea to try and help them by keeping the fit and healthy, teaching them good eating habits, and supporting our future.


I am a little surprised by all the negative reactions to this legislation. My argument actually goes back to what has emerged as an over-arching theme here on MNB - that “American exceptionalism” isn;t some sort of divine right, but rather an earned privilege, and one that we have to earn as a country every day. How better to be exceptional than to create public policy that works to insure that in public schools our children are offered the most nutritious food possible, and are educated about why this is important for their - and our nation’s - future.

Another MNB user wrote:

I totally agree with the recent reader who does not want cookies and sugary snacks in the school. We also go out of our way to provide healthy and organic food for our child and feel helpless to parents who show up a school with treats for the kids. No more “sugar dealers” at the school please!

Another MNB user chimed in:

Everyone is very passionate about our kids eating well in schools. To take the OBama effort 1 step further-Since the military has banned all fried foods, and is concentrating on fueling our soldiers with basic food groups, fruit, veggies, grains, and a lot of "unprocessed" foods. Why can't we do the same for our children?

From another MNB user:

From your own commentary : "Parents can feed their kids anything they want at home, can send them to school with bagged lunches can contain pretty much anything."

In a really disturbing coincidence, someone I know in Connecticut received a note from his son's teacher yesterday. It asked him to stop including a cookie in his son's lunch because it's not healthy. He is following up with the principal to find out whether this is some sort of official school policy or just a crusading individual. It is certainly not directly connected to anything federal. But it is unfortunate to see that sort of interference from anyone. Especially when their own cafeteria sells both cookies and ice cream.

Agreed. That’s an over-zealous teacher in my view.

But hardly reason enough not to have a reasonable public policy approach to school nutrition.

We had a story the other day about how few people understand the importance of counting calories and know how to do it. I was a little surprised by this, but a number of emails disagreed with me.

MNB user Bill Haveron wrote:

Until someone finds an easy way to track calories, no one will do it. It’s hard enough to do for yourself, let alone your kid or kids….especially as they get older. When they are young, and you pretty much provide every calorie they take in, it’s a bit easier. But as they age, and are consuming more on their own, it becomes even more difficult.

I’m an avid marathon runner, and run anywhere between 20 and 60 miles per week. There are many reasons I do this, but one of them is so I can eat what I want. Because I need energy to be a distance runner,  I generally eat pretty healthy, but indulge when I want. However, I do not track my calories. I just know that if I burn more than I take in, I won’t gain any weight.

Anyone who can come up with an easy way to track your calories could be the next jillionaire. Think about the amount of time it takes to divide how much of a product you have eaten based on what is on the package. And if you’re eating fresh produce, there generally is no caloric intake for these products. People who try it get frustrated and just stop doing it. It’s hard enough to get a good meal on the table for your family, let alone track how many calories each kid is eating.
Much easier said than done.

Agreed. I can’t run anymore because of bad knees, but I do try to get to the gym as much as possible, and ride my bike 40-50 miles a week in good weather. I do pay attention to calories - I’m not a zealot about it, but I try to be conscious about it and avoid high-calorie products that I know will take a month to work off.

MNB user Rosemary Fifield wrote:

Is it possible that literal calorie counting is just too tedious to accomplish? I never count calories, but I do concern myself with portion control and the quality of what my family eats. Keeping track of calories in a family with people of varying ages and activity levels may just be too much to contemplate. If people are getting the message about fruits and vegetables, that tells me that practical information they can apply is what we need to provide. Keep emphasizing portion size, the appropriate ratio of vegetables to meat on the dinner plate, and how to include more tasty whole grains in the diet. Provide information about low-fat ways to prepare food and what constitutes a healthy snack. We need to meet people where they are and help them in ways that they will respond to.

MNB user Lorri Putnam wrote:

I think from time to time about counting calories as a weight-loss tool.  But how?  Take yesterday, for example.  For lunch I had a bowl of husband-made ham-and-bean soup.  No idea how many calories – but it was delicious.  For dinner, my husband made burritos – browned and drained ground beef, added seasonings, put a scoop in a tortilla, added shredded cheese, chopped onion and sliced black olives, topped with salsa and plain yogurt, with avocado on the side.  Also, sides of refried beans and leftover rice reanimated with salsa.  I could read the calories on the packages for some of the items, but nothing was measured, and I have no idea how many calories were in the onion, the leftover rice, the scoop of seasoned beef.  Everything would need to be measured, with calories per whatever gleaned from the package or the internet, then listed somewhere to be tracked and totaled.  I think it’s amazing that nearly one in ten adults say that tracking their family’s calorie consumption would be easy for them to do!

I don’t have a package in front of me, but I’d be willing to bet that the refried beans were a killer in that meal.

And, MNB user Dan Jones wrote:

52% of consumers believe you need to pay attention to calorie intake.  Only 14% pay attention to calories the family consumes each day.    Our family fits this perfectly.

In our household we pay attention by making reasonable serving sizes, and  serving nutritious meals for every breakfast and dinner.  Do I try to calculate calories – heavens no.  What  is a serving size of broccoli?  How many calories does a splash of olive oil cost me?  I have no idea, but if I eat a reasonable amount of good foods, I am paying attention to my calorie intake without counting calories.

Finally, this email from MNB user Barry Scher about A&P’s travails:

Shame that a former powerhouse is going by the wayside.

But as the late Izzy Cohen, former CEO of Giant Food used to say: “The good get better and the bad get worse...”

KC's View: