Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fed Up with School Lunch

Yesterday on my AOL news, they featured a story about a teacher that decided to eat the school lunch everyday for a year.  The above picture is an example of what she gets from the cafeteria where she works.  She is young and healthy, and has a husband and a young child to care for.  All she wants to do is bring AWARENESS to what the kids are eating.  She is blogging about her experience, and you can follow along here: Fed Up With School Lunch

 In lower income areas, the school lunch is the only meal these kids get all day.  What you see will shock you, and what the kids actually have time to eat and what they throw away is astounding.  I must say, our meals at my daughter's school does not look like this, but who is to say it is not going in that direction?  I know Jamie Oliver has brought awareness to the UK, and has a program starting here in the states soon, so let's hope the meals will change for these kids - that they won't be loaded up with HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP and get diabetes by the time they are young adults!  Absurd!  Below is "Mrs. Q's" school lunch wish list, which I agree with!

School Lunch Wish List -- a list from Mrs. Q

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what changes would make school lunch better for students. Here's what I've got so far (I might be shooting for the moon here):

1) Commit to offering pizza only once per month and removing hot dogs from the menu.

2) Offer a piece of fruit at every meal in place of a fruit cup, fruit juice or icee. The fruit part of the meal should be actual fruit and it should be sliced so that kids can grab it and eat it.

3) Allow parents, educators, and students access to nutritional information for each meal. It can be online.

4) Offer greens (spinach, salad, etc) in a salad bar to students every day and educate them on how to make a salad.

5) Remove pre-packaged items (bagel dogs, peanut butter sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, etc) from the menu and replace with casseroles, soups, wraps, or fresh-made PB&Js (all of which are cost-efficient and can be made in very large batches).

6) Commit to a 50% to 75% reduction of plastic/paper containers and remove all styrofoam from the cafeteria. Install dishwashers in all schools (like it used to be).

7) Offer more options geared towards students with allergies and intolerances (lactose, wheat, nut, etc). Might as well educate students on what "lactose intolerant" means and what "allergy" means so they can be on the look-out.

8) Every school has a fully operational kitchen with dishwasher and cooking staff. If it means hiring more workers, let's think of it as a "stimulus plan." It's worth it not to truck in all of this stuff.

9) Every school incorporates new nutrition-based cooking curriculum to students of all ages and requires the students to enter the kitchen and learn basic snack and meal prep. Even pre-schoolers can spread peanut butter or soy-nut butter on celery and put little raisins on top.

10) Teach students where their food comes from by taking a trip to a farm or planting a school garden so that they can be invested in food and have an experience in DIRT! "Dirty" is not a bad word.

11) Actively incorporate recycling into the school program and instruct students on how to recycle and what can be recycled and why it's important.

I will continue to follow along her journey, and hopefully make a difference somehow in ways this can change.


Saucy said...

Check out Jaimie Oliver's Food Revolution coming to Fox later this month, and if you can find his old series, I can't remember the name of it... about re-doing school cafeteria food in the UK, it is FANTASTIC.

Lisa Russell said...

Yes, it starts this Friday! I'll have to see about watching the UK version. Sounds great! Thanks!