In March, news outlets began reporting on pink slime in school lunches. Since then, according to the New York Times, public outrage has been building and petitions have been signed to remove the treated beef. Now many school districts are pulling the plug on pink slime. As a result, some schools are temporarily removing beef items from their menus. Others are phasing out the product and hoping to find some “filler-free” beef. As school districts scramble to find better meat, it’s frustrating to know this type of food is so prevalent in our country.
As an educator, I have never thought the school lunches were quality. In fact, I wouldn’t want to eat the majority of the items offered to kids. Removing pink slime is a step in the right direction. Likewise, I’m glad that districts are deciding to purge their inventories from the low quality beef. However, I think that there are many other foods on the school menu that might not be much better than pink slime.
Part of the reason for the public outrage over the low quality beef was the name: pink slime. Essentially, the slime is beef scraps treated with ammonia. With the distasteful name and the media coverage, people starting thinking about what was in the beef. However, I’m still wondering what is in the chicken? Are the students eating sugar-laden chocolate milk for breakfast? Is there high fructose corn syrup in the muffins? Why are french fries considered a vegetable?
As a teacher, I know that what children eat plays a role in how they perform at school. I’ve seen children come to school with a frozen hot pocket for breakfast. For recess, a snack might consist of soda and chips. For lunch, I’ve seen many of my students eat chicken nuggets and throw away their apple. High sugar and low nutrient diets leave kids tired and unmotivated to learn. It’s hard to teach kids who don’t have a healthy lifestyle. As an educator, I can bring in fresh fruit and vegetables for parties and lessons. However, it is the school lunches that I am really worried about.
Luckily, the government has created some programs to put healthier items on the school lunch menu. Shows like Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution have raised awareness about unhealthy items in school lunches and at home. I am thrilled to hear about some schools putting fresh and even organic fare on their menus.
The odd thing is that the pink slime incident was recent. Even more disturbing is the idea that the USDA were the ones distributing the low-quality beef. This shows that we have long way to go before many schools can call their school lunches healthy. Yes, I’m happy pink slime is being removed from some school lunches. I’ll be even happier when the tomato sauce on the processed pizza is not considered a serving of vegetables.
What would you do if you knew ammonia treated beef scraps were being used to make items on your child’s school lunch?
Bidgood, Jess ‘Pink Slime’ Losing Place on School Lunch Menus nytimes.com