Friday, August 31, 2012

Peanut Butter, Play Better.

This week, I received a very interesting tip from a student in a small town Kansas high school who reads the School Lunches Suck! Blog.  He told me that there were a couple of schools in the towns down the road who were serving peanut butter sandwiches after lunch to the football players, so that they wouldn’t be as hungry during practice.  I asked him to put me in contact with a football player from one of the schools, and before long, I had a story.
    Devin is a sophomore at a small town high school in northeast Kansas, where the only important things this time of year are harvest and football.  I was intrigued by what I was hearing from others about the sandwiches these players were eating; where they were getting them, and who was paying for them. Devin did most of the talking, and had a quick answer for every question I asked him.

Me: Devin, I am writing a blog about school lunches in America, and I heard that you have some information that would make a very interesting blog post.  Your football team gets peanut butter sandwiches before practice?  Whose idea was it?

Devin: Yeah, we do get them.  It was our football coach’s idea, who is also our athletic director.  

Me: Who pays for these sandwiches? Who makes them?

Devin: Every year, the parents donate Gatorade to drink during practice and games, but this year our coach asked them to donate bread and peanut butter so we wouldn’t get hungry during practice.  You just make the sandwich yourself, in the locker room.

Me:  When did you start eating them before practice?  Are they for the players only?

Devin: Last Monday [August 20th] was when we started eating them.  Yeah, they’re only for the players.

Me: How long are they going to continue donating the bread and peanut butter? Has anyone in your school’s food service program said anything about you eating them?

Devin: I guess we’ll eat them until we don’t have anything left to make them with.  Nobody has said anything,  I’m not sure why it would matter to them.  We are allowed to bring snacks to school and eat them so it shouldn't be any different.    

Me: Alright, I have just one last question before I’m done.  Can you tell if it makes any difference on your performance in practice?

Devin: Yeah, I’m just not as hungry, and helps how I feel overall.

    I thanked Devin for his time and input.  I told him that it would probably be a couple of days before I was able to work out a post, and that I would make sure he got to see it finished.
    For most of the interview, which was conducted over the phone, Devin seemed really puzzled as to why I was so interested in ‘just peanut butter sandwiches’.  What really intrigued me, though, was the fact that it was the football coach/athletic director’s idea.  He went as far as asking the parents to donate bread and peanut butter so the players could have a snack before practice; something that had never been done before.
    One other thing also made me very curious about these sandwiches, and that is that there cannot be any competition to the school lunch program unless it meets certain USDA criteria.  From a CDC weekly report titled, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, I uncovered many of the regulations that govern school food sales. One of which was,  “Competitive foods are not subject to any federal nutrition standards unless they are sold inside the food service area during mealtimes.”  I will explain this in easier terms, as I had it explained to me.  It simply states that the only food that can be served during meal times (breakfast and lunch) in a public school must be regulated by standards set forth by the USDA.  This pretty much limits what can be sold during lunch and breakfast hours in a public school, often leaving the school lunch program the only choice.  Since the sandwiches are donated to the football team, and not sold to them, this does not fall under, “sold inside the food service area during mealtimes.,” meaning, to me, that they are doing no wrong.
    This seems like quite an extreme measure to take, just for a snack before football practice.  But after my Interview with an athlete, I soon realized that it was a great solution to what has become somewhat of a problem with the portion size of lunch at school.

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The link below is for the CDC’s weekly report, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly:

1 comment:

  1. Hello Travis,

    I must tell you I am VERY impressed with your site here! I am relatively new to the Beatrice area and recently enrolled my daughter in Lincoln Elementary and have been going round after round with their staff regarding food issues there. My daughter has thankfully been accepted to receive lunch and breakfast their on the food program. I try my hardest to watch what she eats as she is a bit on the larger side. What amazes me is that Lincoln is serving poptarts on a regular basis to the kids and I just read on yahoo yesterday that poptarts are one of THE worst foods for kiddos to eat especially 2 of them. I am shocked that with these new health mandates from the government that this is allowed. Also, on a side note I have gone through TONS of extensive phone calls between the principal, nurse, teacher, etc. just to have my daughter to be allowed to eat a snack due to meds she's on. The teacher originally sent a note home to all parents stating kiddos were hungry mid morning due to the late lunch schedule and that as parents we were to help the kids by buying the ENTIRE class of 21 students snacks on roughly a monthly basis. Like most parents I protested...I can't afford to buy snacks for 21 kids at a time! The teacher's initial response to this was that if I and other parents would not agree to buy snacks for the ENTIRE class at a time, then the kids would get NOTHING as a snack at all and just go hungry. As you can imagine I have fought back even being forced to provide a doctor's statement to be allowed to pack a snack in her back pack to take to school. The next response I got was that since I was not going to provide snacks for the entire class then my daughter would be allowed to eat a snack due to her doctor's note, but would be segregated to eat alone in the hall way by herself or in the office as not to offend other kids who didn't have a snack....just because the parents CAN'T afford to pay for 21 kids' food at a time. The teacher has tried to work around this by giving the kids gummy snacks and skittle math graphing projects this week. You think it is bad at the high school....just look at what is going on with innocent 6 year olds in first grade here in Beatrice!!!! I am so sad my daughter has become apart of this school district! Please if you can investigate food issues here in Beatrice at Lincoln!!! Thanks so much.... -D