Finally, this school year, 2011-12, the USDA has determined that schools must provide drinkable water to all students with unrestricted access during their lunch periods. This can be in the form of a mass dispense system in the cafeteria, or a drinking fountain in or adjacent to the eating area.
I don’t call this a victory, but it is progress. Some schools will state they have water for sale. That’s great, but that’s a restriction. Not all students can afford to buy said water. Then you have that one teacher who’s on the rag and bitchy during her turn to supervise the kids at lunch. She now can’t tell a kid, “No,” when they ask to use the drinking fountain, no matter how much she wants to do so. At least it’s not in her best interest.
Oh wait, I forgot about the 100% juice substitution. I was told last year that my lactose intolerant child can get 100% juice to drink instead of one of his fruits on his lunch tray. Yes, that means he can forgo food for a drink. They are teaching our kids to consume liquid calories.
Having drinking water available still doesn’t solve the fact that our kids who are lactose intolerant are forced to buy a milk with their lunch, charged for it, but can’t drink it. They also cannot trade it with a friend since there are so many food allergies now, there is no trading at lunch anymore. This is wasted milk. I find this deplorable when so many of these kids are coming to school hungry. You want to know how to save money in the government? Stop reimbursing schools for thrown away milk. Let them offer rice or almond milks instead. No, DO NOT offer soy. Enough ingested soy can mimic estrogen, and I DO NOT want my son drinking soy milk as an alternative to cow’s milk. I’d rather he drink calcium fortified orange juice before soy milk quite frankly. Do your research, but that’s probably asking too much of a government organization like the USDA with such antiquated practices when it comes to school lunches.
This nonrestricted access to drinking water at lunch is indeed a step in the right direction. I do wonder why it took until 2011 for it to happen. Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting are all enough of a reason that a child should be exempt from drinking milk. It’s not like the child is faking these symptoms, and the symptoms will hamper the child’s learning process if milk is ingested. Just because a child doesn’t need an epi pen doesn’t mean their dietary needs aren’t serious. You would also think the schools would take these intolerances more seriously when family doctors and allergists are filling out the paperwork for the cafeteria saying the child cannot drink milk, but it doesn’t seem to matter.
If more people would take the time to educate themselves rather than shove antiquated policy down our throats (policy that can be changed), we could worry more about what our children are learning in school, and less about if that school lunch will make them too ill to learn due to a government agency’s ignorance.