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June 22, 2006

Fluffernutter controversy!

These people are in charge?

A Massachusetts state senator is trying to pass a law against marshmallow Fluff in school lunches. Apparently he discovered that his son's elementary school offers Fluffernutters as an option to its students every day, so now he wants them banned completely. And, of course, another lawmaker is now trying to get the Fluffernutter declared the state sandwich of Massachusetts. What?

It seems like the real issue here has nothing to do with marshmallow. What I want to know is why elementary school children are being given the option of eating any one thing for lunch every day. I'm quite sure that when I was in elementary school, which was not all that long ago, there was basically one offering a day for "hot lunch," and while it was not fine cuisine, it was at least theoretically nutritionally balanced. At what age should children be allowed, or forced, to make their on nutritional decisions? Elementary school seems to be obviously too young. Now, I'm not saying that the kids shouldn't have a say - I don't believe children should be forced to eat things they don't like. (That's why I rarely bought hot lunch in elementary school.) But the great majority of kids that age aren't informed or mature enough to decide what to eat for lunch each day - especially with such tantalizing options as Fluffernutters available.

Now, nutrition is obviously the parents' responsibility. I am generally against things that take responsibility from parents to give to schools - for example, I'm totally opposed to school libraries controlling, or being expected to control, which books are read by which children. Should the same rule be applied to food? I'm not sure. Maybe it depends on what parents think they're paying for when they send that $1.65 to school for lunch. (It's probably a lot more than $1.65 now, though, isn't it? Hmm.) I'd assume most parents think that their children are being given the same sort of unappetizing but vaguely nutritional meal of yesteryear. Do those little calendars of which meal is being served on which day still go home every month? Does "Fluffernutter" appear on every day, if it's available every day? If it does, and the parents are ignoring the implications, then it's their problem, I guess. But if the school isn't making all this abundantly clear to the parents, they should be.

But I still think that passing a law about marshmallow Fluff is silly. Although if it keeps the lawmakers from passing even stupider laws about more important things... hmm. Bring on the Jaffa cakes!

Posted by Kat at June 22, 2006 10:31 PM

That IS disturbing. I always had the impression that there were various laws governing school lunches -- that they had to be nutritionally balanced, etc. Surely marshmallow fluff violates that, anyway? Why not peanut butter and JELLY sandwiches, at the very least?

Posted by: Tracy at June 23, 2006 08:20 AM

At my son's school, there is the traditional monthly menu and each item is offered once a month. Each item has all the food groups included. It is $2 for my son. No marshmellow fluff in site. I can't believe that allow that!

Posted by: Mindy at June 23, 2006 11:50 AM

Because of food allergies and the like it makes sense to let kids decide between two, nutritionally balanced choices. Say, you can have peanut butter or tuna fish. A kid with a nut allergy can still have lunch. A kid with a fish allergy can still have lunch. Or say there are oranges, apples, and pears and the kid can have one fruit of choice.

Marshmellow fluff every day is crazy. Maybe once in a rare while, say on the last day of school every year as a treat. Not every day or even every week.

Do we really need a state sandwitch?

Posted by: Ivy at June 23, 2006 12:36 PM

I'm surprised that peanut butter is on the school menu, it's been banned entirely from at least one school in my area - even if you bring it from home.

Marshmallow fluff? I suppose honey is better, but barely. Geez, the things kids eat.

A state sandwich! Oh no. I can see my day at work is now going to be wasted on nominating sandwiches for all the states.

Posted by: Carrie K at June 23, 2006 02:40 PM

I wonder why there are so many peanut allergies now when there weren't back in the long ago when we were kids? This came up in conversation with a friend recently, and we were stymied...

Posted by: Chris at June 23, 2006 09:52 PM

My mother fed us Fluffernutter sandwiches every day when we were growing up, and look how I turned out-- fat, diabetic, and unable to leave New England for fear of not being able to find genuine Fluff for me to ruin my children's lives with.

Posted by: Ali at June 24, 2006 12:23 AM

I had a friend in 4th grade who ate PB&J for lunch every single day, but she brought it from home. Clearly, her parents would have had no right to complain about anything the school was or was not serving. Crazy.

Posted by: Sneaksleep at June 24, 2006 10:37 AM

I'm old enough to remember the Reagan administration's "catsup as a vegetable" maneuver re: the school lunch program. This is along those lines. Gee, I wonder if the makers of Flutternutter are contributors to anyone's campaign. (*walks away shaking head and muttering*)

Posted by: kmkat at June 24, 2006 06:14 PM

Our kids have five choices every day for lunch (six if you count bringing a lunch)...four healthy ones, and one that's pure junk: main choice, pizza, yogurt w/ crackers, salad, or PBJ. The every day pizza option was added this year. Otherwise, it's served once a week as main choice. Other than the pizza issue, our lunches are pretty well balanced. The kids can purchase snacks for extra, and there's talk of limiting that to one per child. We also offer breakfast every day (cereal, toast, occasionally pancakes). Yes, the menus go home every month, and full price lunch is $1.25. Most of our students are on free/reduced lunch, though. This is often the only "good" meal they will get all day.

Posted by: Courtney at June 24, 2006 06:57 PM
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