Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Write for Better School Lunches

I was not a big fan of school lunches as a kid. I still remember that nasty Chicken Chow Mein that they seemed to always serve. Pizza Fridays weren't bad, but I was definitely happier most days to bring my lunch and buy a milk for a dime (hard to believe it was a dime!)

School lunches may have improved on taste (don't all kids like chicken nuggets?), but from a nutrition perspective, most schools aren't doing the kids any favors. According to Slow Food USA, schools are reimbursed $2.68 for each free lunch which, after overhead, translates to $1/lunch. Cheap is good, but if it's leading to the later high health care costs associated with obesity and diabetes, the real costs are much higher.

With the Time for Lunch campaign, Slow Food USA is urging Americans to sign their petition and write Congress to call for the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009 (voting has been delayed until early 2010). The Act would provide an additional $1/day to fund the lunches. It also provides $50 million to link local farms with local schools - that money would get poured right back into the communities and would support the small, organic farmers that I am convinced are necessary for our long-term nutritional needs. I've just finished reading the section about "big organic" vs. "small organic" in The Omnivore's Dilemma (by Michael Pollan) and it was very convincing on that point. Definitely a book worth checking out if you want to know more.

If you care about what we're putting into our kids' tummies on a daily basis, I encourage you to learn more.

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