aka The Slow Cook
I had originally intended to focus in this post on the cottage cheese you see in the photo. Serving cheese products seems like a great way to address the concerns of parents that kids aren't getting enough calcium. But then the apple juice on this tray caught my eye and I wondered what would happen if you removed it, since it contains so much sugar (2.5 teaspoons in a 4-ounce serving, or about the same as Coca-Cola).
But then I started to add up the calories in this meal, which Chartwells offers at my daughter's elementary school as the cold alternate breakfast on Thursdays. Under D.C.'s "Healthy Schools Act," schools must serve children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade a minimum 350 calories for breakfast. The Kix, with four grams of sugar, contain just 70 calories, the low-fat milk 110 calories, the apple juice 55 calories and the cottage cheese I'm guessing around 45 calories. (It looks to be about one-quarter cup).
With a total of 280 calories, this meal, by my reckoning, already falls short of the minimum prescribed by law. Take away the apple juice, with its dose of calories from fructose, and this breakfast would be 36 percent shy of the calories prevailing law says the schools should be serving every day.
That helps explain why school food service operations have become so addicted to sugar. Sugar adds a cheap boost of calories to meat meal program standards. But more than any other ingredient, sugar is linked to the current epidemic of childhood obesity, as well as health consequences such as elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and even non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in children.
Maybe that's why some schools are so desperate to hang onto flavored milk: not for the calcium and other nutrients, but for the calories that come with the added sugar.
What could you put on this tray that would satisfy the requirements for calories, would not add sugar, and wouldn't bust the food services budget?
2 months ago