Michelle's Healthy, Hunger-Free Menus

As part of the "Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010" the White House released a "Before/After Elementary School Lunch Menu," with five typical "Before" (unhealthy) and five "After" (healthy) menus.

The Before menus have five stereotypical fast food entrées: burritos, hot dogs, pizza, pizza sticks and hamburgers (bad), but they also include a fair amount of healthy food: bananas, raisins, raw celery and carrots (1/8th cup each), applesauce, canned pineapple, etc.

The After menus are notable in their length: rather than three items plus milk, they typically have four items, plus milk and dips for the raw vegetables. One of the mission statements of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 seems to be that no crudité shall be consumed without low-fat ranch dip. Michelle must be a fan.

The protein servings in the After menus have been reduced to the minimum recommendation; the Before menus had 3 or 4 ounces of meat, while the After menus restrict the meat and fish servings to 1.5 to 2 ounces. (I wonder how many ribs that would be?)  Combined with the milk serving, this provides around 20 grams of protein out of a daily recommendation of 28 grams, so it might be sufficient, assuming that dinner isn't a Ring Ding and a bag of Cheetos cheese flavored snacks. Still, one wonders why the "Hunger-free" act is cutting meat servings in half for elementary school students building strong minds and bodies.

Here's the week's line-up, with my comments:


Submarine Sandwich (1 oz turkey, .5 oz low-fat cheese) on Whole Wheat Roll

A 5th grader can easily consume 1 oz. of turkey in one bite.

Refried Beans (1/2 cup)

Who serves refried beans with a sandwich?

Jicama (1/4 cup)

Jicama? It's a "sweet, edible root popular in Mexican cuisine," otherwise known as the Mexican turnip.

Green Pepper Strips (1/4 cup)

Cantaloupe wedges, raw (1/2 cup)

As opposed to cooked cantaloupe.

Skim Milk (8oz)

Mustard (9 grams)

Is mustard a vegetable?

Reduced fat mayonnaise (1oz)

Low Fat Ranch Dip (1 oz)

No crudité shall be served without low fat ranch dip.


Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (1/2 cup) and Whole Wheat Roll

Good stuff.

Green Beans, cooked (1/2 cup)

One and a half cups of vegetables in an elementary school lunch? 90% will go straight into the trash-er, compost.

Broccoli (1/2 cup)

Broccoli and cauliflower in one lunch?

Cauliflower (1/2 cup)

Kiwi Halves, raw (1/2 cup)

I love kiwis, but I can't afford them.

Low-fat (1%) Milk (8 oz)

Skim milk on Monday, 1% on Tuesday? It's harder to accustom taste buds if you alternate.

Low Fat Ranch Dip (1 oz)

No crudité shall be served without low fat ranch dip.

Soft Margarine (5 g)

Margarine, made from partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil? And why "soft"?

Photo by Peter Wilson


Chef Salad (1 cup romaine, .5 oz low-fat mozzarella, 1.5 oz grilled chicken) with Whole Wheat Soft Pretzel (2.5 oz)

Another 2 oz. serving.

Corn, cooked (1/2 cup)

Baby Carrots, raw (1/4 cup)

From the Before menu.


From the Before menu.

Skim Chocolate Milk (8 oz)

My kids never get chocolate milk.

Low Fat Ranch Dressing (1.5 oz)

No crudité shall be served without low fat ranch dip.

Low Fat Italian Dressing (1.5 oz)

For the chef salad, not the crudité.


Oven-Baked Fish nuggets (2 oz) with Whole Wheat Roll

How did you find your 2 oz. fish nugget, sir? It was easy, I looked under the parsley.

Mashed Potatoes (1/2 cup)

With margarine?

Steamed Broccoli (1/2 cup)

Straight to the trash-er, compost.

Peaches (canned, packed in juice - 1⁄2 cup)

Shouldn't this be on the Before menu? I had these in school in 1964.

Skim Milk (8 oz)

The milk tasted better on Tuesday.

Tarter Sauce (1.5 oz)

You'd think with the $3.8 trillion budget the feds could afford spell check.

Soft Margarine (5 g)

No whole wheat roll shall go un-margarined.


Whole Wheat Cheese Pizza (1 slice)

Finally, pizza day. Whole wheat crust adds a bit of fiber, but it's still pizza from the Before menu.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I love these, but who serves fries with pizza?

(1/2 cup) Grape tomatoes, raw (1/4 cup)

Who serves tomatoes with pizza?

Applesauce (1/2 cup)

You'd think on Friday they might get a Devil Dog.

Low-fat (1%) Milk (8 oz)

Low Fat Ranch Dip (1 oz)

No crudité shall be served without low fat ranch dip.

The Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act targets both obesity and hunger, which seems like a contradiction, since obese people do not have a hunger problem. Michelle Obama would argue that poor people can't afford healthy food; since they live in food deserts, they are forced to eat junk food, which makes them obese but does not satisfy their hunger for healthy food. It's true that people with a limited food budget are more likely to splurge on fat and sugar than on carrots and low-fat ranch dressing, but this does not make them hungry. The growing sixth grader who eats his 1.5 ounces of turkey and throws his cup and a half of broccoli, cauliflower and green beans in the compost will probably not be hunger-free. A Devil Dog at the convenience store on the way home will easily remedy that problem.