Good evening. I’m Kate Bogli. I have four boys: Owen is in 5th grade at Wells, Atticus is in 3rd grade at Wells, Jeb is in 2nd grade at Kearns, and Luke will start Kearns in 2017. This is to say I put a lot in your hands every school day.
About 3 weeks ago, I asked Harry Traver what the Administration’s direction to Sodexo (our food service contractor) was. He answered “We want the freshest and least processed food possible in front of the students”. “Great,” I thought. “We’re on the same page!”
I eat lunch with my kids from time to time throughout the year. I pop in, unannounced to see what is going on in the lunchroom – who my kids are hanging out with as well as what they are eating. The good news is – school lunch is getting better! Tastier, fresher to look at and to eat. The bad news is – we are still putting sugar-filled milk, ice cream and chips in front of our children. In a building where, I think we’d all agree, everything in it should be full of positive, nurturing, inspiring messages, we aren’t doing everything we can in the lunchroom.
I’m not asking for micromanagement, but we do need some oversight of Sodexo. Last year I was surprised to see Snapple juice showing up in the front of the lunch line. 100% juice is not required to be offered by the USDA school lunch program, but it is approved for ala carte sale. Water, on the other hand, didn’t get top billing, but was sold by hiding it in a cooler that kids had to ask for. It took an email to the Sodexo rep, a public comment to him at Open House, and another email to the principal to get water equal play to Snapple at Wells Road School. At the end of the lunch line, after the delicious fresh fruit and vegetable bar, kids are faced with a Frito Lay point-of-sale display that includes, among the other baked potato chips, Doritos. Chocolate chip cookies were for sale on the Friday I was there, and ice cream is offered on Thursdays. In a quick run through the high school lunch line after the last Superintendants Forum, I saw they are selling Pop Tarts and Rice Krispie Treats right next to the cash register. These are all “ala carte” items that Sodexo is not required to offer according to the USDA school lunch program. Mr. Traver, you seemed a little surprised when I mentioned those items in our meeting – did you know that before? Did anyone else?
So, by now I’m sure you can tell I’m no fan of Doritos. But don’t mistake me for a food Nazi – I love an ice cream treat, and we eat plenty of cookies in our house. I just prefer to share those treats with my kids at home, where I can control the ingredients and we can talk about good things that happened in their day. However, I don’t even want to make this case on my likes or dislikes. You do believe that nutrition is important to teach to our kids, because Jeb, my 2nd grader, came home early this year with lots of information about macronutrients and the food groups. This isn’t about what I or any other parent thinks is “healthy” or “not healthy”. The messages you send to our kids in the lunchroom need to line up with the curriculum you are teaching them in the classroom. We don’t put pornography in the library and let children make their own decisions about whether they should read it or not. Putting chocolate milk, chips, and ice cream in front of our kids day after day says to them “yes, this is a good thing for you to eat every day”.
So I’ll go back to Mr. Traver’s direction to Sodexo: “We want the freshest and least processed food possible in front of the students”. And I’ll ask you, Board of Ed, why are you selling these “extras” to our kids? Sodexo and Harry Traver couldn’t give me an answer – can you?