Posted on December 9th, 2010 No comments
Simple, Good and Tasty recently had a post on how the Minneapolis Public Schools Food Service Department is incorporating healthy options into the school lunch program by slowly replacing junk food and processed options with healthier fare. Here’s a short list of some of these changes:
- In 2005, the a la carte menu was eliminated, reducing labor costs (freeing up money to spend on food) and making it difficult for kids to load up on sides dishes instead of entrees.
- In 2006, non-fruit desserts (aside from cookies) were eliminated altogether, and more fruits were introduced on the menu.
- In 2007, cookies were taken off the menu. (“Nicole and I went to Anthony [public school in Minneapolis],” Irfan says, “and there was a kid with a stack of cookies for lunch. Nothing else. After that, they were gone.”)
- In 2008, juice was removed from the menu in Minneapolis High Schools.
- In 2010, strawberry milk was eliminated from the menu altogether. Chocolate milk was removed from the breakfast menu.
- Also in 2010, corn dogs, chicken nuggets, and breaded chicken patties were removed from the menu.
These changes come in the wake of feelings from parents and vested individuals who think the schools are not doing enough or moving as fast with implementing healthier foods. As Irfan Chaudhry of the Food Service Department notes:
“We don’t have microwaves in any of the schools,” Irfan says, “and people still think we microwave all the food in the schools.”
There’re also internal worries too, as school lunch providers are wary of non-sugary items not being taken by students. If this happens, kids who are in the federal school meals program will opt out and this will lead to cuts in the program and reductions in salary and staff. So, for now, it’s small steps to replace the sugar and salt with healthier and tasty options, which is definitely a step in the right direction.
Posted on November 4th, 2010 No comments
Dana Hudson grew up on a family farm in Washington, D.C. and her childhood memories are filled with spending time with her extended family there. Then, the tide of sprawl swept through and her family had to sell the farm to developers and relocate to different parts of the country. Dana settled in Vermont and years after the move, channeled her motivations and emotions into reconnecting individuals with their local farms. She focused on schools and wanted to connect kids to healthy foods through farms and nutrition education. She partnered with a collective of Vermont nonprofits called FEED (Food Education Every Day) and set up relationships between farmers, food providers, schools and community members. Thus was born the Farm to School movement.
In the years that followed, Dana’s witnessed a lot of positive changes, including seeing teachers and parents change their food habits, attendance improving when farming was on the day’s schedule, new economic markets opening up for farmers and food management companies changing their distribution and corporate practices. Dana knows a lot more needs to be done but clearly understands we all have the power to change our food habits and take back our food systems. Just take it from Dana when she talks about the importance of good food:
When I was a child on my family farm, my grandmother told me repeatedly, You are what you eat, which I always considered in respect to my own health and wellbeing. But my food is linked not only to my daily energy to function, but to my family, my traditions and culture, our shared landscape and all aspects of our functioning society, including our democracy, our economy, our health care and our societal welfare.
For the full article, click here.
Posted on October 7th, 2010 No comments
Jamie Oliver, TV chef and nutrition advocate, posted an opinion piece on CNN about the urgent need to change the way kids eat in schools, especially in the wake of the Child Nutrition Bill stalling in Congress. He’s pushing for parents to go to school to see what kids are eating and urging teachers and parents to stand up for healthier options. He also says if you know how to cook, you can buy more efficiently and if there is a strong food education curriculum, everyone from kids to adults will know where foods come from and how meals are made and can make smarter decisions about what they eat.
With the combination of the national Let’s Move campaign, advocacy groups speaking against junk food in schools and the Child Nutrition Bill hanging in the balance, Oliver states the time to act is now before it’s too late.
If this bill doesn’t get passed when Congress comes back in November, then it’s going to be another five years before we have another shot at fixing these regulations. Five years is too long to wait. Without this legislation, school food will stay in the Dark Ages of nutrition and your kids are going to suffer. They deserve better.
For the link on the story and video, click here.
Posted on September 2nd, 2010 No comments
The video below from Edutopia.org highlights a middle school in California that makes nutritious and healthy meals for its students a priority. The school has its own vegetable garden and the veggies are used in school meals. The students also help to tend the garden, adding a level of personal involvement in their own nutrition. They have fun with the hands-on approach and learn something about health along the way. Even traditional, processed meals such as mac and cheese get the healthy treatment at the school since they make their own sauce with natural cheese and ingredients. The video also relays the message that in order for the school’s success to be copied elsewhere, parents and the community have to be vocal in their desire for healthy meals for their kids.
Posted on July 15th, 2010 No comments
The Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act passed its first hurdle today as the House Education and Labor Committee passed this sweeping bill to reform childhood nutrition with a vote of 32-13. The bill is the first substantial change to school food policy in some time. Some of its proposals are to increase the reimbursement rate for schools-the first increase in over 30 years, improve the quality of the meals, implement new safety guidelines and promote physical activity and recess time.
“I am pleased that this legislation calls for common sense action, to protect the health of our children. This bill addresses the need to work with children of all ages, from infants to high school age, to help them form healthy habits” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), chair of the Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities and original co-sponsor of the legislation.
Click here for more information about the bill and its amendments.
Posted on July 8th, 2010 No comments
The new documentary Lunch Line, by Uji Films, is an intriguing look at the federal policy that shapes the nation’s school lunch program and how complex its become in the past 60 years. It also focuses on an intrepid group of Chicago teens who are cooking up healthier meals as part of an effort to get better options in schools. The film shows how not just a change in meal options, but a new direction in policy is needed to propel important change in the school lunch program.
Posted on July 1st, 2010 No comments
Revolution Foods, a healthy school lunch and breakfast provider based in Oakland, CA, held a tasting of some of its offerings yesterday at the Golden Door Charter School in Jersey City, NJ. The attendees, which included administrators from local charter schools and a team from READS, were treated to delicious and nutritious lunch items including turkey meatloaf with whole-wheat pasta, teriyaki chicken with brown rice, stir fry veggies and a serving of fruit on the side. Revolution Foods is helping schools around the country in the fight against childhood obesity by providing a healthy alternative to salty and sugary school lunches and educating kids about the benefits of nutrition in fun and creative ways. Here are some pics from the event:
Posted on June 24th, 2010 No comments
Bravo’s reality series, Top Chef, took on the challenge of creating a healthy lunch for a school in Washington, D.C. in last night’s episode. The catch was the chefs had to stick to a public school lunch budget, $2.60 per student. The chefs got pretty creative, putting together meals ranging from whole wheat crusted mac and cheese to a carmalized sweet potato dessert. The show was tied to Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to help end childhood obesity and to bring the issue of healthy school lunches to the forefront. Check out the recap from Babble here.