Education

Oh dear! Hypocrisy I love thy name!

2:40 PM

Quite a few months ago I was praising my daughter’s school’s decision to come up with set menu for each month which parents were to follow. the school reasoning as explained to us was that they wanted the kids to have HEALTHY food in their tiffin. I saluted the move because a lot of stuff going into tiffins are fried stuff and junk food. I made a point to put salads, nuts and fresh fruits, but some parents sent their kids to school with Kurkure, namkeens, Maggi noodles and popcorns almost everyday. The first month menu was actually a great one, well balanced and all…that went all down from there, the school started putting more and more paratha, veg cutlets and starchy crap on the menu, with February seeing French fries on the menu…healthy much!
By April they had dropped the menu thing and I went back to putting a lot of things Ishi actually DOES eat and love: fruits, nuts and pasta salads loaded with vegetables (even if she picked only the tomatoes and olives to eat along with the pasta).Then Summer camp came and the free choice tiffin continued, Ishita was happy eating watermelon, sliced apples, sandwiches and salads the whole time. School started again in June and no set menu in sight, I was thinking that maybe they got bored with it and abandoned the project only to resurrect it in July, with somewhat healthy choices, the worst of the lot being the “cereal day” during which they just wanted us to toss a handful of dry  Kellogg’s sweet stuff in the box (I always balanced it adding nuts, because I don’t call Honey loops or chocos healthy).
Last month I started seeing it was once again heading in a dangerous direction with that menu of the month:

Monday: Whole wheat sandwich (fine by me, that’s healthy)

Tuesday: Maggi Noodles (and that is healthy how???????)

Wednesday: Upma or Poha (healthy, but utterly yucky when it sat in a tiffin for nearly 2 hours before being eaten…and you want kids to love new food stuff!)

Thursday: Cookies or fruits (I chose fruits for obvious reason, but I know cookie is the easiest option)

Friday: Kid’s choice (the day kids can call potato chips a tiffin fare if they want)

The worst in August was the Maggi Noodles, don’t get me wrong noodles taste good, many parents used to put them in the tiffin before the school went all gung ho and wanting to stop junk food issues at snack time…so why is the school putting it on the set menu if they wanted to promote healthy eating habits in school? Your guess is as good as mine, but I knew from the previous academic year that the healthy claims the school has to enforce the set menu turned out to be bogus.

Today I received the set menu for September, hold your socks!

Monday: Fruit or Sandwich (that one is fine)

Tuesday: Veg cutlet (yup the vegetable nuggets you fry in a tawa…healthy huh?)

Wednesday: Dosa or paratha (basically you have the choice between a fermented rice and lentil batter pancake that is turning rubbery if left to rest in a tiffin for 2 hours or a fried flat bread…second day of food stuff that need oil to cook)

Thursday: FRENCH FRIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Of course it is Junk Food anywhere else but when the school put it on the menu this is healthy! COME ON)

Friday: Kid’s choice (basically if your child want’s a repeat of French fires, you can put it in the tiffin again it’s freedom day!)

Now I don’t know about you, but I see something disturbingly wrong here, allowing note one, but 3 days in a row of fried food stuff to go on the menu. I brought it immediately to the attention of the teacher who looked at it like it was the first time she saw it…clearly the principal is the one behind this crap, and she pointed well Dosa is healthy…sure it’s the least horrible of the lot, it’s still essentially a starchy pancake, and the main issue is that a cold dosa that sat in a tiffin for hours before being eaten is the surest way to disgust a kid from wanting to eat them at all in the future. Needless to say I’ll replace that with some idli, made with the same batter but steamed instead of fried and which still taste good even eaten cold.
The thing that irks me the most out of this is the sheer hypocrisy of the school direction, if the plan was to teach healthy eating habits to the kids and prevent junk food from being in a tiffin box, WHY is there so much fried stuff and starchy empty calories stuff going on the menu? And that too in a month that has for teaching theme: Fruits of the orchard and vegetable from the garden! So basically our tiny tots will learn the name of all kind of fruits and veggies in the form of nursery rhymes, and activities, but when they will open their tiffin the only thing containing veggies will be a vegetable nugget! SCORE!

I’m thankfully not the only mom who think the school has lost it’s marble and credibility on that one, we all complained to the teacher about these ridiculous tiffin menu options. As for me, the cutlet will be a solitary one, with a side salad of fresh veggies and sprouts, the dosa will be replaced by an idli as I refuse to consider the paratha option and Ishi LOVES idli anyway, and the French fries will be oven baked, because if I don’t put them in the tiffin she will be eating off the other kid’s boxes anyway, and kid choice will not be kid’s choice, it’ll be a fruit or a salad!

9 comments

  1. Akshaya7:25 AM

    God you have serious issues with this school...we never had such things schooling in India. We all enede up getting roti with sabji or roti with ghee and sugar as treat. Packs of chips or kurkure were too expensive then to bring to school :D
    Also I can't imagine eating all these things cold in tiffin ...

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  2. Akshayayour comment hasn't show up in disqus yet, I think there are some synching problems. But I I got a blogger notification for it :-)

    Yeah this school is starting to really ring off to me, the whole healthy food claim is laughable, I can totally get them not wanting kids to have potato chips in their tiffin, but how is French fries even different I wonder? Roti and sabzi sounds like a perfectly acceptable tiffin meal to me, and you are right, any of the fried food stuff we have to put up with this month taste good cold, cutlets turn soggy, dosa mushy, paratha gummy and uuuugh! Don't get me started about how revolting cold french fries taste. It's even more ridiculous when the school time lasts for 2.5 hours, do the kids really need a snack of fried food in such a short span, especially since breakfast happened not even too long ago before shipping them to school? To me it seems a few sliced fruits, or sprout salads would just be fine anyday, along with the brown bread sandwich thing that comes month after month and is a nice healthy filling small meal a toddler has no problem handling and eating on their own.

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  3. I agree with you whole heartedly Cyn. They are crazy. Im so glad I don't have to deal with this myself. My son's school has very strict guidelines for what should be packed in their lunches. I love how they ask that they get a serving of fruit, one of vegetable, a protein of our choice and a choice of dairy. They are a completely nut free facility because of allergies though so I make him sunflowerseed butter and honey sandwiches on whole wheat bread. I use cookie cutters to cut his sandwich into hearts or dolphins or stars and such. He is four so he just loves the shapes. I remember a post about cookies and baking. Maybe you could try baking cutlets. You could try forming them with cookie cutters too. The one in your post looked like it had a shape to it but I couldn't make it out for certain. Good for you for fighting for your daughters health.

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  4. Akshaya7:18 AM

    oh all this fuss is for 2.5 hours of school...gee they could do better by investing their energies in evolving the curriculum ...

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  5. Yes exacly, I think at this point the kid don't really need such a big snack in their tiffin, Ishita starts school at 11am and had breakfast around 9 or 10 am, and she comes out of school at 1.30pm right on time for lunch at home, if the set menu is a heavy oily food she skips lunch and I hate it because something like maggi or french fries is essentially an empty food. I understand the tiffin time as a mean to teach kids about sharing and learnign table manners, but the food doesn't have to be so rich for a snack.
    And as you said, they could put more energy into the curriculum rather than think these idiotic menus every months!

    But hey yesterday I got to talk to the coordinator about that, she didn't understand why I was making such a fuss about the set menu, when I pointed that it was 3 days in a row of fried food she was quick to tell me that the cutlet wasn't fried food because it was cooked in a tawa! Albeit with oil, but a tawa cooked food apparently does not qualify as fried!!!!!!!! I blasted her on that one, and she then said "But there is no obligation to follow the fixed menu"...uh? That's not what you guys told us when you came up with it, and I pointed the hypocrisy of it to her and she still didn't get it telling me I could put whatever in my tiffin anyway, when another mom questionned her about the Maggi Noodle from last month, the lady answered "We never said it had to be instant noodles, we just wrote noodles on the sheet" Genius when 98% of all noodles sold on the Indian market ARE instant ramen noodles!!!!!

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  6. @ Ash, trying to synch your comment back into Disqus right now :-)

    I would bake cutlets if Ishita even LIKED them but it's not her favourite food and I don't eat them often myself, so it makes more sense to buy frozen ones, the one in the picture is shaped like a dinosaur it seems, but yeah if Ishi was a fan of the nuggets type food I wouldmake my own.
    And since her school time is 2.5 hours a day, they don;t even really need such a big meal.
    Back when I was a kid in Switzerland the lunch break was long enough for kids to go home for lunch as back then dual income families were not as common as it is now. They now have more and more school canteen program for kids of working parents, all meals are planned by dieteticians and pretty much follow the same pattern you described: one protein food, 1-2 vegetables, one fruit, the dairy is not done though, the Swiss diet is dairy rich anyway at other meals, so if lunch doesn't have it then fine, on occasion the fruit desert is replaced by a fruit yogurt and once a week some school will do a small serving of cake or chocolate mousse, but it's not the norm at all. The food is served by volunteers mostly senior citizens and stay at home moms to keep the meal price affordable, the volunteers get to eat the meal themselves after the service time for free.

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    Replies
    1. I think that is a wonderful program. I wish they did more of that here in the states. I don't really bother with the dairy in his lunch either because he only likes cheese if it is cubes or sprinkles.

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  7. My children have now grown up and elder daughter has passed engineering. But i think this kind of hypocrisy is required for some lazy mom's who like to give junk food in tifins. I also find that you are hyper sensitive for the use of OIl. Omega 3 acids are available only in oil and are required for the healthy growth of children. Regarding Paratha, my Dad whose age is 89 still healthy eating Paratha every day for the Breakfast. So , suggest, dont be fussy about the oil usage. I am 53 years, just recently done LIPID profile, and Cholostrol is well with in limits.
    What matters is , whether you exercise of not. If yor regularly hit the Gym, there is not problem with normal Oil etc in the daily home cooked food.

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  8. Cholesterol levels are also highly genetic, my husband is active, exercise daily for 45 minutes, but we had to reduce the intake of oil in the food because his numbers were going up, the cooking oil isn't that full of omega fatty acids as nuts whcih also come packed with other nutrients. I don't have the genetic cholesterol issue, but I have PCOS and insulin resistance to deal with so yeah I need to watch what goes on my plate big time as for me loosing weight is a never ending battle, I exercise daily too but my weight refuse to go down thanks to the mighty hormones, not that I am obese, I'm just slightly overwieght thanks to all the careful attitude to food.

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