The poor nutritional quality of the school lunch program in the United States is partly to blame for the epidemic of childhood obesity, filmmaker James Costa said in an exclusive interview.
In Costa's riveting documentary Lunch Hour, TV star Rachael Ray, nutrition advocate Dr. Neal Barnard, and radio personality Robin Quivers express their shock at the alarmingly deficient content of today's school lunches.
Sadly, more than one-third of American kids are now overweight or obese, and most of them will grow into obese adults who eventually get stricken with diabetes, heart disease and other diseases.
"Change is needed, and it's up to us to ensure healthy food is the only option being served," said Costa. "America's kids are depending on us."
Among the shocking revelations Costa makes in Lunch Hour include:
- Schools are dumping grounds for agricultural commodities. The government buys low-quality cheese and dumps it into school lunches. The goal is to boost farm income, even at the cost of children's health. "Did you know that if there is a recall for meat, no one bothers to tell the schools?" asked Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
- Many kids already have blockages in their hearts by the time they graduate high school. "Kids as young as 9 are taking cholesterol medicines trying to clean out their arteries," said Rachael Ray. "We did that to them."
- There are 17 million American children that would go hungry every day they're not in school because the only access they have to food at all is school food.
- 1 in 3 children born since 2000 will develop diabetes.
- Most of the meals provided to children through the National School Lunch Program costs $1 dollar to make and are served earlier than ever, with most starting at 10:45 am. And children are only given 10 minutes to eat.