Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Free for All: Fixing School Food in America

from: http://www.janetpoppendieck.com/free_for_all.html

Be sure to check out Janet Poppendieck's book on school lunch reform. This book is a great resource for anyone who is interested in learning more about schools financial problems, the commercialization of childhood, the reliance of big food cooperations, and who determines what food is served in our schools.

Conclusion and Recommendations

from: http://beinglatino.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/the-salad-bar-cheerleader/

Based on my investigation I will answer my initial questions in my first post about school lunch reform. Here is what I have discovered based on my research.

How can we change school lunch programs?

We can start by converting school lunches to healthier menus, using locally grown and/or organic ingredients free of pesticides, antibiotics, and genetically modified food. We can teach kids about healthy food choices through cooking classes, curriculum, and garden projects. Healthy eating in childhood promotes optimal growth, intellectual development and helps promote healthy lifelong behaviors.

Why are school lunches so difficult to change?

Changing school food is a daunting task that requires interacting with the government, USDA, and the food industry. Government policies make it difficult to change school lunches because they are often supplied by large businesses. It is difficult to change these large cooperation’s products and contracts to support healthier food choices. It is also a challenge to change peoples’ attitudes and perceptions about food. Many schools do not have proper kitchens for cooking and these schools rely on bulk food that can easily be re-heated. Finally, good food costs more money.

How can parents, students, teachers, schools and the community get involved to make healthy changes to school lunches?

· Look for small menu changes with a big health impact such as salad bars. Stock the salad bar with green lettuces, veggies, legumes, and fruit.

· Serve fresh fruit instead of canned fruit.

· Offer greens, such as broccoli, kale, and salad greens on the menu every day.

· Remove deep-fried or highly processed food items such as pizza and chicken nuggets.

· Eliminate vending machines or at least make sure they contain healthy foods.

· Get involved with a farm to school program that can introduce fresh foods to your school. Farm to school programs help support farmers, serve healthy meals, and help educate children on health and nutrition.

· Integrate recycling and composting programs. Many schools are unaware of the real costs of waste disposal. Getting rid of food scraps and packaging costs money, and lots of it! You can reduce your school lunch waste through various practices such as recycling and composting. Not only will this reduce your school waste, but students will understand the need to conserve natural resources.

· Provide hands on learning opportunities for students to deepen their knowledge and attitudes about food, culture, cooking, and health.

· Celebrate each successful change, and look ahead to the next.

Letter to Teachers

Dear Present and Future Teachers,

I am writing this letter to help educate you about the dire state of our national school lunch program. Childhood obesity statistics are on the rise and have caught the attention of the American public. Since the 1980’s obesity among children and adolescence has nearly tripled. There are many factors that contribute to childhood obesity such as: schools serving sugary drinks and highly processed foods, lack of physical activity, increased portion size, and children spending more time in front of televisions and computers. Improving school lunches and breakfasts is one way we can help fight obesity.

Schools often serve highly processed foods that are filled with additives, high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients. Together we need to start a food revolution. We owe it to our children to be serving them fresh, local, and organic food. Everyone needs to be engaged in this issue because we all have a responsibility to educate students on healthy eating choices. Whether you are a student, teacher, parent, nurse, food service director, principal or school administrator, our communities need your help. Collectively we can make a difference by helping to replace junk food with salad bars, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads.

The Obama administration has launched several initiatives to improve school meals and help educate kids, teachers, and nutrition professionals about food and nutrition. We must educate and reconnect children to gardening, lunch prep, and cooking. This includes teaching children where food comes from, so that they can make informed choices for their lifetime. It is our duty to put an end to alarming statistics of childhood and adolescent obesity. I hope you will do your part to help support school lunch reform.The school food situation is complex, but changes can be made one step at a time. As Jamie Oliver said, “it is our responsibility to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook, and to empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

Kind regards,

Annie Fulmer

Monday, June 6, 2011

Critique and Discussion

There are many reasons why we need to transform school lunches. As discussed in this blog childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate and has more than tripled in the past 30 years. This crisis has prompted parents, teachers, and leaders to provide healthier food options as well as review the nutritional standards, which have not been updated in over 15 years (Parsons, 2001, p. 1). Even though it's very clear that school lunches need a makeover, it is a surprisingly complex and controversial topic. "It is an issue of money, history, policy, and children's dietary choices"(Aiken, 2010, p. 1). Government policies make it difficult to change school lunches because school lunch programs are federally funded by a complex web of manufacturers who spend millions of dollars on advertising. It is also difficult to change peoples’ attitudes and perceptions about food.

Current research shows that healthy lifestyle habits can decrease the rate of obesity. That is why it is so important to give children the building blocks for a healthier future. Every child deserves fresh and healthy food. We must end the highly processed food in schools and reconnect children to gardening, lunch prep, and cooking. This means learning how to cook, understanding where food comes from, and recognizing the power it can have on our health, happiness, and finances.


Aikens, L. (2010, November 1). What Will it Take To Change School Lunch? | WakeMed Voices. WakeMed Voices. Retrieved June 6, 2011, from http://wakemedvoices.org/2010/11/what-will-it-take-to-change-school-lunch/

Owens, J. O. (n.d.). Sleep: The Missing Link in Preventing Childhood Obesity | Intent.com. Intent.com | Dream It, Share It, Achieve It. Retrieved June 6, 2011, from http://www.intent.com/nancyrothstein/blog/sleep-missing-link-preventing-childhood-obesity

Parsons, S. (2011, April 16). What's Going On with School Lunch Reform?. change.org. Retrieved June 3, 2011, from https://news.change.org/stories/whats-going-on-with-school-lunch-reform

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Get Involved

Take action with One Tray. www.onetray.org
Nourish the nation ONE TRAY at a time: Support Farm to School Programs and invest in child nutrition.

I love this organization and both of these videos because they are created with the help of students. These videos' are simple and to the point. The medical costs of obesity and diabetes is staggering. Healthy food does cost more money, however it's an investment in our future and it's all worth it!

Jamie Oliver's TED Speech

Jamie Oliver won the TED prize in 2010. This video is a little long, but worth watching as Jamie helps to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.

History of School Lunch Programs

School lunch programs began in the 1930’s as a way to provide food for low-income families and to help dispose of surplus agriculture. “From the outset, they had two purposes: to help dispose of surplus agricultural commodities owned by the government as a result of price-support agreement with farmers , and to help prevent nutritional deficiencies among low-income schoolchildren” (anonymous, 2011). In the 1980's school populations were growing and schools were not able to keep up with school lunches. Schools turned to outside vendors to provide meals and additional income and pizza and soft drink companies led the way. “By the 1990's fizzy sugary drinks had replaced milk and pizza was the favorite meal” (anonymous, 2011).Over the last 10 years parents, educators, and doctors have become alarmed at the increasing rate of childhood, adolescent and adult obesity. These reformers called for an end to vending machines and fast food and have suggested ways to reconnect children to food by gardening, lunch prep, and cooking.

from: http://www.drsoram.com/2010/06/solving-the-problem-of-childhood-obesity-within-a-generation/


School Lunch. (n.d.). The FOOD Museum : What's New. Retrieved June 6, 2011,

from http://www.foodmuseum.com/exhbitschoollunch.html