What in the names of Beavis & Butt-head is going on in Chicago's school lunchrooms?
You'd think in this day and age that students would be served up healthy and balanced meals full of fruits, vegetables and grains - even if only alongside such traditional staples such as sloppy joes and turkey pot pies.
You'd be wrong.
Nachos, it turns out, have become a "staple entree" not only in Chicago's public schools but in other districts as well, the Tribune reports.
As an entree.
"Giving kids nachos for lunch may seem surprising in a district that serves neighborhoods where childhood obesity rates are more than double the national average," the Tribune notes. "But nachos, despite being loaded with salt, fat and calories, may just be the perfect food under the National School Lunch Program."
"They are cheap and easty to prepare . . . "
Um, so are apples.
" . . . The dish uses at least two agricultural commodities that form the backbone of the lunch program, corn and meat . . . "
"And students will happily eat nachos daily -- key in a system that financially rewards companies when kids choose to eat their food."
So what's good for the nacho companies is good for our students?
Is this really happening?
"In Chicago elementary schools, nachos are second only to cheese pizza in meals served, despite being offered only half as often," the Trib notes. "In high schools, nachos are also No. 2, just behind chicken patty sandwiches."
If you're shocked, you're not alone.
"About 100,000 Chicago public high school students, 80 percent of whom qualify for free and reduced-price lunches, can choose nachos as an entree every day," the Trib says. "That idea shocked ... national school lunch policy experts who were under the impression nachos were restricted to a la carte programs that sell food outside the lunchroom."
Nachos are one of man's greatest creations, and we wholly support their consumption. But not as the entree - or any part, really - of a school lunch.
Call us old-fashioned, but if you can get it at 7-11, it probably doesn't belong on your kid's cafeteria tray.