For tons of families, school is officially back in session. That means easing back into the routine of teachers, books, fundraising drives, navigating the drop-off line and, of course, school lunch. The stuff on offer in school cafeterias has pretty much always been the butt of more than one joke — it's not that great, generally speaking.
But traditionally it's been the kids griping about whatever mystery meat they're expecting to do battle with. At one school in Georgia, however, the cafeteria has something that's usually considered very tasty on the menu, and while the kids might not mind, parents definitely do.
So what's the controversial morning meal? Funnel cake.
Dallas, Georgia, mom Crystal Collins noticed the deep-fried sugar bomb during the first week of class at a Paulding County school, and she was more than a little mad when she did. She snapped a picture of the "meal," which kids were washing down with dubious grape "juice," and uploaded it to Twitter, where it's got a lot of parents doing a horrified double take.
The school, however, insists that this isn't a funnel cake; it's a "Dutch waffle," a whole-grain breakfast that's not fried, but baked. See for yourself:
This is what government deems to be a healthy breakfast for students: funnel cake, powdered sugar, and fake juice l… pic.twitter.com/t1r5h3GTem— Crystal Collins (@CrystalECollins) August 8, 2016
Sorry, but to us, that looks an awful lot like a funnel cake. It's tough to see from the picture whether it's baked or fried, but that pile of powdered sugar sure isn't helping the school's case that this is a healthy way to start the day. According to a local news outlet, the school is sticking to its "Dutch waffle" story, which is a problem for a few reasons.
The first is that an actual Dutch waffle looks like this:
The second is that you can call it whatever you want, but a serving or two of whole grains doesn't make the 12 grams of sugar and 13 grams of fat disappear. It might be within the acceptable range of required nutrition, but there's no way you can look at this and say that the "waffle" in question has any real value beyond tasting good. If you ate that for breakfast, you'd either feel like crap halfway through the morning or still be hungry, which is a problem on a few different levels.
Part of the problem is that if you want kids to focus during the day, it's not a secret that lean proteins and healthy carbs are the way to get them to do just that. The second, arguably more troubling part of the problem is that of the kids that eat breakfast at school, 11 million of them are low-income, which means the Dutch waffle in question could be the only way some Paulding County kids have breakfast at all. With an established and worrying link between poverty and obesity, it's kind of important for that source of hard-to-come-by calories to not be the nutritional equivalent of a sleeve of gas station mini doughnuts.
There are obviously going to be growing pains with school meals now that we're finally trying to give a crap about how healthy they are, but the pushback from the school when someone pointed out that this one missed the mark is a little bizarre.
Yes, it has fulfilled the nutritional obligation to the letter with these Dutch waffles/funnel cakes, but what about the spirit of it? For a while, these kinds of things will just have to be a little like Justice Stewart's obscenity test. We can't all be expert nutritionists when it comes to healthy foods, but we know it when we see it, and this definitely isn't it.
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