A few weeks ago I wrote an article about school lunches being a national security risk. School lunch quality is declining, and many want something done about it.
I got many interesting comments on this article, some agreeing, and others pointing out that without the school lunch program many children would not get a lunch at all. While the immediate solution for me might be to pack a brown bag lunch for my children, this may not be the option for all. Lunches need to be improved at school for the good of all the students.
I finally got a chance to sit down and begin watching the series: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I've got newborn twins, I never get to watch TV when it originally airs! ABC.com does have full episodes available on its website though. What concerned me the most was the demonstration that our children are eating such highly processed foods that many cannot recognize their original states. For example Chef Oliver held up a potato, and most children did not recognize it. However, they all knew what a french fry was.
I realize that the root of the problem is not the schools, or the cooks, or even the food service coordinators. All of these people are often doing the best they can within a flawed system. They only have a certain amount of money to spend per student, per lunch. Because of subsidies, surplus programs and lack of cooking equipment, highly processed foods are not only more budget friendly, but often the only foods these programs are able to serve due to a lack of manpower, equipment and funds.
While it may be easy to say that school lunches need to be improved, the harder task is actually improving them. And any improvement will not happen overnight.
What kind of small changes do you see happening in Bismarck? Is your school making a certain healthy dish from scratch? Removing junk food from vending machines? Offering healthy choices and actually encouraging them? I'd love to hear about it.
Next up will be resources for starting a local food revolution.
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