Jr Pundit Primo, aka William, is five years old. His parents purchased at the school auction the opportunity for young master William to be “King of the Lunchroom” for a day. This is an august title that carries with it the right to be first on line that day, to wear a crown and, crucially, to select the menu.
William thus had a meeting with the head of the independent catering company that runs the lunchroom to discuss the menu. And with all our industry efforts to increase produce consumption, it struck this, admittedly biased Pundit, that he had a lot of good points to make:
First, he reamed into the guy about seasoning and sauces that the cafeteria staff is always slathering on the vegetable of the day: “Little kids do not like those spices,” said William, “you should not put them on any more.” A perfectly accurate assessment of the situation.
Second, William pointed out that “If you want kids to eat healthy vegetables, you have to have ones they like. So you always should offer a second choice in case they don’t like the first one.” Seems sensible enough. How serious are we about getting kids to eat vegetables if we put out one on a “take it or leave it” basis?
Third, he attacked the lack of variety in the fruit offering. There is a basket in the back where adults can get the children apples or oranges, but the only fruit that the children can pick up themselves are tiny plastic containers of mandarin orange sections, melon bits and sometimes a fruit cup. William blasted this: “We like big pieces of fresh fruit. How about some nice melon? Cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon and some berries, like blueberries. And we like a lot of it, not little containers.”
William assured the caterer that he should watch what everyone eats on the day that young William is King of the Lunchroom and thus the day all his advice is certain to be followed — “You will see, all the kids will love their fruits and vegetables!”
We’ll report back after the event, but two things struck this Pundit: First, that the Jr. Pundit had acquired his father’s penchant for expressing strong opinions. Second, that this five-year-old’s advice, if followed nationally, is as likely to boost consumption as any of the other efforts around.