Yet with health foodies storming the White House, the school lunch revolution may have reached its tipping point. Even amid the federal budget crisis, President Barack Obama allocated an extra $1 billion for child nutrition programs including school food in 2010. Last March, First Lady Michelle Obama started the first “organic”garden on the White House grounds (which, as it turns out, can’t actually be certified as organic because a sludge-based fertilizer was used during a previous administration) — a symbolic move Waters had been championing for years. At a harvest celebration in June, the first lady delivered a food policy speech that addressed the need to improve school lunches. Before becoming the White House chef, Sam Kass denounced the artificially flavored and colored, high-meat, and low-vegetable meals the National School Lunch Program produces. Finally, the new secretary of education, Arne Duncan, may also lend a sympathetic ear to the food warriors. Recently during his “listening tour” on education reform, he chose to take his lunch break at Barnes Elementary School in Burlington, Vt., where a successful Farm to School program delivers fresh produce directly from small, local farmers.
Just came across this great post on GreatSchools.org about the move towards healthier school lunch programs. While the post asks “Should the Department of Education be as focused on salad bars as teacher salaries? Are legumes as essential as literacy?” my thought is that the two can’t be thought of as separate things.
The fact is that the types of foods typically served in the lunchroom – pizza, tater tots, etc. – are not only making our kids obese and sick, they also affect cognitive function. You could easily point to studies on this, but I’d suggest also thinking about the last time you had a slice of pizza or a fast-food chicken sandwich. How did you feel afterwards? And how did you feel after eating something that was delicious but also fresh and good for you?
Yes, teacher salaries are important, as is literacy. But the best teachers in the world can’t make the difference they need to if their students are tired and lethargic from a school lunch that doesn’t actually nourish them.
What do you think?