The Kitchen Think: That’s Good For Me? No Thanks, Ma


I’ve fed five kids regularly for years… and probably hundreds more with various sleep overs, after school activities, birthdays and backyard parties. One thing I’ve learned: You can’t force a kid to eat what he or she doesn’t want to eat.

Sometimes you can sneak healthy food into meal… most of the time it doesn’t work.

I’ve been complaining about the need for healthier lunches for a while (see December 13th Kitchen Think post). Well, now many schools are walking the walk… and the kids aren’t buying it. Literally. Since getting rid of the Pop-Tarts, nachos, doughnuts and processed foods, schools have shown a sharp decline in lunch sales. Kids are passing up the lunch line and opting to eat out of vending machines (many schools still have them) or waiting until they get out of school to eat.

The Chicago Public Schools are a great example because their lunches are pretty close to what the United States Department of Agriculture recommends. The schools are now offering more whole-grain options, a larger variety of vegetables, cereals with less sugar and, generally, serving food with a lot less sodium. But a whole lot less salt means less flavor, students tell the Chicago Tribune, and less flavor means kids are going to pass on what’s being served.

Healthier lunches are a great idea, agreed. But like most things in life, drastic change can be a drag. Take the doughnuts out of the cafeteria, sure, but replace them with banana or blueberry muffins and then eventually replace those with whole grain banana and blueberry muffins. And as for sodium? It is not the salt shaker seasoning that’s causing the health issues… it’s the sodium in processed food that’s so detrimental to our kids.

Gradual, thoughtful changes need to be considered. What about a rotating panel of student “taste-testers” to help decide what to serve? Now, THAT would be different! And who knows…it just might result in healthier menus with choices that kids ACTUALLY like!

Like it? Share it!

posted under The Kitchen Think

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: