a. be made in the poorly equipped, understaffed cafeteria.
b. include beans—lots of beans.
c. be tolerated, but ideally loved by students.
d. fit into the absurdly confusing nutritional guidelines set up by the USDA.
If you were ever curious as to what the reasons were behind the deplorable offerings in our school cafeterias, reason a and c above have something to do with it, but reason d is public enemy number one. These guidelines have food service directors calculating percentages of proteins and fractions of fats for everything the students put in their mouths.
This is very time consuming and difficult so the USDA has made it easier by aligning with major food corporations like Tyson. These companies have unlimited resources to figure out just what to put into their highly-processed chicken nuggets to make them suitable for USDA standards, so all the schools have to do is open a box.
Now if you were strapped for resources and time would you spend the hour calculating how many grams of sugar is in a fresh roasted chicken leg with homemade barbecue sauce or just read the side of a package?
You think the standards could be much simpler. How about this one? No processed foods. Or this one? Nothing with ingredients that you can’t pronounce. But instead they have one that dictates yogurt as a protein, not a serving of dairy, so a breakfast must also include some form of milk and of course we offer chocolate—that’s not a problem.