School Lunch Programs
School snacks and lunch are bombarding our children with “foods” that have a shelf life longer than they do. The number of ingredients in these items fills a list higher than a preschooler can count. They are being wooed by colorful cupcakes, crunchy little fish, “baked” chicken nuggets (previously fried but reheated by baking), pizza and corn dogs. Yes, corn dogs, a.k.a. carnival food. Where did all the real food go? Where did ingredients go that kids (and grown-ups) can pronounce? Where did the concept of nourishment go?
If it didn’t matter what they ate then it wouldn’t be a big deal…but it does matter and it is a big deal. This is not a body image issue, it is a health crisis. Food in school needs to be thought of as one of the most critical success factors to the academic education, not just filling them up in between math and reading class. They spend 180 days of the year at school and most of the day five days a week. Learning to eat, and what to eat, is possibly the single most important life skill they can be taught. There are not many things you do every day of your life from birth until death besides eat and, well, you know. Schools need to teach children from preschool to 12th grade all about food: where and how it is grown, how it nourishes our body and brain, how to prepare it, and what foods with empty calories and preservatives do to us now and in the future. (And why they can’t concentrate or sit still in math after they’ve eaten foods with MSG/excitotoxins – just to name one scary chemical!)
We have been so impressed by Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution; we certainly hope school administrators across America were affected by his show. Michelle Obama’s passion for healthy school lunches to combat obesity and Chef Ann Cooper and the Time for Lunch Campaign from Slow Food USA are also creating change. Learn about these programs and other successful programs around the country that are helping students with healthy choices, increased health and academic achievement, education about farming and where our food comes from. Help educators, school boards, and elected officials take an interest in and become passionate about the health of the future leaders of our country. It does matter what they eat at school. Take action with your school.
- The Surgeon General’s “Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation” states that our obesity problem threatens our progress with quality of life and life expectancy.
- The American Diabetes Association says that for people under the age of 20, 186,300, or 0.22% of all people in this age group have diabetes, about one in every 400-600 children and adolescents has type 1 diabetes, and about 2 million adolescents aged 12-19 have pre-diabetes.
- Nitrites and nitrates in various foods, such as lunch meats, are known carcinogens (cancer causing)
Green Parent Association has not been endorsed by any of these experts. We have included them on our page so YOU can rely on them as much as we do. We hope they don't mind us trying to send you to their site!
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Recommended Reading / Watching
- Lunch Lessons – Changing the Way We Feed Our Children, by Ann Cooper
- TED Ideas Worth Spreading – Jamie Oliver
- “E, The Environmental Magazine”, September/October issue, “Eating Right”, by Matthew Kadey, titled; “SNACKS, UPGRADED, Lunch Box Staples Get a Health Kick”.
- Farm to School Legislation: A State by State Listing
- School Lunch; The Man Who Couldn’t Eat; Hunting in Mongolia, AUG 29, 2009