Thursday, November 5

Doughnut mornings in Chicago Public Schools....

Kendall Bess, right, reaches for a toaster pastry as Ameenah Saleh, left, maneuvers the breakfast line with her donut at Faraday Elementary School on the West Side. The girls. both 6, passed up the apples. (Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune / October 27, 2009)

An article in the Chicago Tribune this past week examines the food options given to Chicago Public School students, and nutritionists are a little concerned. Offering free breakfast to the students is a new policy to be lauded on many levels, but does the nutrition add up?
CPS says, hey, we are follwing USDA guidelines!

Chicago schools' food service director Louise Esaian defended the breakfasts, saying: "All of the menus served in Chicago Public Schools meet the requirements established by the (U.S. Department of Agriculture). In the majority of our schools, students are offered a choice at breakfast." She, however, did not mention that those choices include sugary pastries.

And here the ecology of information, consumer choice, and semantics rolls right in:

In fact, Chicago parents could be forgiven for not knowing doughnuts are ever served in school. That's because the word doughnut never appears on any city school breakfast menu the Tribune examined. Instead, the menus say MVP Breakfast, the product's brand name. City school officials did not respond to questions about why they use such an unrecognizable term on the menu.

But Kimberly Schwabenbauer, dietitian and marketing manager for the manufacturer, Pittsburgh-based Super Bakery, made it clear that she doesn't like to use the d-word when referring to her company's product: a round, sweet, cakey pastry with a hole in the middle. When she absolutely had to say "doughnut," she prefaced it with "quote unquote."

What does this say about education, much less nutritional education? The doublespeak is worrisome if we are trying to teach kids to be smart and critical thinkers, as well as healthy.


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