Wellness Blogger Calls Out School for Serving Funnel Cakes for Breakfast

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I find it hard to hate on the funnel cake. I love a good funnel cake. If you gave me a funnel cake for breakfast, I’d be pretty ecstatic, especially if I were at a county fair and got to follow it up with a corn dog and some deep-fried Starbucks coffee and then a ride on the Gravitron. But that’s because I am a grown-up and can be irresponsible like that from time to time. Funnel cakes are not part of a balanced breakfast, which is why one Georgia woman was livid when she saw this on kids’ plates at her local elementary school.

According to NBC, Crystal Collins runs a health and wellness website where she writes about juicing, organic foods and GMOs, cleanses, budgeting, and essential oils. She was livid when she saw that kids in her school district were eating a breakfast that adhered to Federal nutrition guidelines, but was pretty clearly not a healthful meal at all. She Tweeted out in outrage that students were being served funnel cakes for breakfast, and people were understandably bewildered at how those things could be considered healthful.

The school maintains that the thing in Collins’ photo is not actually a funnel cake, it’s a thing called a “Dutch waffle,” and it is allegedly made with “whole grains” and meets nutrition standards for school breakfasts.

“It’s actually a Dutch waffle,” said Suzanne Wooley of Paulding County Schools. “A Belgian waffle. It meets USDA requirements. It’s two servings of whole grain.”

It does look like a funnel cake, though, especially since it’s topped with powdered sugar and paired with a cup of grape juice. It doesn’t look at all like what most people think of when they think of “Dutch Waffle”–if they think of the phrase at all. Most google results for “Dutch Waffle” give you a small, crisp waffle cookie filled with honey, which is called a Stroopwaffel and is pretty darn tasty and definitely a cookie, and also definitely not what that kid has on her plate.


However J&J Snackfoods, a foodservice company that makes food provided to institutions like schools, has a product they call a “Dutch Waffle,” which looks exactly like what’s in the picture.


(Photo: J&J Snack Foods) 

That particular product is sold frozen and is heated in the kitchen either by being baked or fried, but even when baked it’s not exactly health food. According to the nutrition information, each five-inch waffle–without sugar–has 300 calories, 120 of which are from fat. Each one has 13 grams of fat, three of which are saturated fat. The first ingredient on the ingredients list is soybean oil, then water, then whole wheat flour.

The school might maintain that this is not a funnel cake, but at that point we’re in a semantic argument. Is it a Dutch waffle or a funnel cake or a confused doughnut? It doesn’t really matter. You could call it a kale salad, but it still wouldn’t be something a person should be eating every day right before school. The same of course holds true of toaster waffles, Pop Tarts, pancakes, and any number of other breakfast foods that are fine as occasional treats, but not really a healthful breakfast that will make kids feel good and have energy throughout the day.

According to NBC, kids at the school are given a choice of breakfast foods, and they’re reportedly required to pick something with whole grains, and either fruit or juice. Milk and protein are available at the breakfast, but a lot of the kids are apparently skipping over that stuff and going straight for the glorified funnel cakes and juice boxes instead of more healthful options. That’s a problem, especially since school breakfasts are often targeted towards low-income students who might not have any other options. A “Dutch waffle” with a cup of juice might not be healthful, but it squeaks in past the nutrition requirements and appears to be a popular choice. It fits federal nutrition guidelines, but those aren’t exactly perfect, and this demonstrates that it’s perfectly possible to adhere to them while still holding a breakfast that is mostly sugars.

H/T SheKnows