Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's for Breakfast: French Toast Except the Crust

By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook

I couldn't help being amused by the sight of how meticulously one child at my daughter's elementary school had avoided eating any of the crust off this piece of French toast.

To me, this is the perfect metaphor for how willfully kids will sometimes foil every attempt adults make to force "healthier" food on them. When all is said and done, kids will still be kids.

As I've written here many times, what I see day after day is kids throwing good food--typically vegetables and whole grains--into the trash. The reason: "It's nasty," the kids say.

So are we just throwing tax dollars drown the drain by insisting that schools put more vegetables and whole grains on kids' cafeteria trays?

For years, one of the biggest obstacles to better school food has been the people who run the cafeterias--the food service directors who insist "the kids won't eat it." Well, it seems they are right. But is that the end of the story? Will kids eventually eat this stuff if we just keep trying? Do we need adults in the cafeterias encouraging the kids to try different foods? Will the mere sight of sweet potatoes, broccoli and whole wheat french toast day after day somehow influence their food decisions tomorrow, the next day, years from now?

For me, this brings to mind one of the funniest lines from a great movie, Shakespeare in Love, when the theater manager is asked how the play will possibly go on when everything is falling apart.

"I don't know," he replies. "It's a mystery."

How we make school food work for kids and adults is still very much a mystery.


  1. Do you think that it would help if we had more food education programs? Not just to tell kids what is/isn't healthy, but also to give them an opportunity to try new foods. Once they've tried the food and said "it's nasty", the teacher could encourage them to describe it in better terms like "To me it tastes like dirt" or "It's too dry." Then that information could be shared with the school food services in order to improve on the preparation, etc.

  2. As a Food Service Director, thank you for finally validating what we have been saying all along.

    Without nutrition education and parental role modeling, changing school lunch is a waste of money.