This is a blog post responding to a Back to School / Lunch Revolution Blog and Twitter Party invitation over on Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project.
The party organizers asked participants to answer one or more questions including “Does school lunch need to be reformed?”
As I wrote in a blog post not too long ago, I’m an angry mom when it comes to school food. I’m angry that I can’t trust the food that is being served in the cafeteria. I’m angry that the school offers a la carte items like Pop-Tarts® and Doritos®. I’m angry about the stigma that is created from the different levels of income-based subsidies. And I’m angry that corporations are making a profit while their food is making our children sick.
I just finished reading Free For All: Fixing School Food in America by Janet Poppendieck. I’m not going to do a full review of this book right now (because it’s getting late), but I will tell you that it opened my eyes to the complexity around reforming school lunch. It’s not going to be easy. However, it must be done. We cannot continue like this.
Growing up in Sweden, I took for granted that tasty, nutritious school food was available and free for all. No worrying about “checking out” and holding up the lunch line if you lost your lunch money. The food was nutritious and there was no concept of an a la carte line. We ate our food on reusable plates with real silverware, drank a glass of milk poured from a dispenser, and did not have dessert. And very few children were overweight or obese.
I agree with Poppendieck that the only answer is free food for all. And not just free food, but healthy, local, organic and minimally processed food. Let’s make it a priority to serve our children good food for a good future! Start by joining your local Student Wellness Advisory Committee.
However, until reform happens, I will continue packing a lunch for my 13-year-old. I just purchased the Zojirushi Ms. Bento® Stainless Steel Lunch Jar from Zappos.com (it was $6.00 cheaper than on Amazon.com). I’ll be filling this with pasta salads, soups, leftovers, fruit, veggies, and a small piece of dark chocolate or some other treat to satisfy that after-meal sweet tooth.
Let the fun begin!