Kids in Fairfax, Va., have demanded their additives and chemicals, and it looks like they are going to get them. According to a recent story in the Washington Post, Fairfax County Public Schools are pulling all-beef burgers from school lunch menus and replacing them with processed meat after heeding complaints from students.
It all started during the 2011-12 school year, when a Fairfax-based advocacy group called Real Food for Kids released a report showing that the school district's burgers contained 26 ingredients, including a number of additives and preservatives. Parents were outraged, and the processed burgers were replaced with all-beef patties. But at the start of this school year, the school district quietly returned to the processed patty, citing kids' complaints about the all-beef burger as their reasoning.
In a note to Real Food for Kids, Penny McConnell, Fairfax schools’ food and nutritional service director, wrote that “students are our customers and we listen to them and implement their requests if possible.”
OK, I get that. But what are the schools going to do if the students complain that math is too hard? Or that they don't want to learn how to spell? Wouldn't it have been better to try another option — such as switching all-beef burger suppliers or working with the kids to address their concerns, rather than taking a step backward and bringing back the burger that's chock full of chemicals?
Parents, school officials, and health care providers are supposed to be working together to help kids lead a healthier lifestyle. What does it teach kids when their school officials bring back what is essentially junk food just because the kids say it taste better? Should they switch back to potato chips because those are more popular with students than vegetables?
Just in case you're wondering what is exactly in a 26-ingredient burger, check out this video from NPR's Tiny Kitchen.