Rethinking School Lunch

Why Real School Food?

The City School District of New Rochelle (NY) and the Mamaroneck Union Free School District (NY) have contracts with Aramark.

Aramark at Kauffman Stadium

There is a better way!
We can train local people to feed our school children healthy meals.
At DC Central Kitchen, they have prepared nearly 6,300 healthy, scratch-cooked breakfasts, lunches, and suppers each day for children at 10 public and private schools in Washington, DC.  They are proving that healthy, scratch-cooked meals can be enjoyable for children, affordable for school districts, and valuable for teachers who need children to be nourished and focused.
The Obamas at DCCK

President Barack Obama checks in on First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia as they prepare burritos while volunteering at the DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C., on Martin Luther King Day

Click image for interview with Robert Egger, founder of DCCK.

Let’s replicate what is being done at DC Central Kitchen.

We need to rethink our food system.

The Third Plate by Dan Barber

As Dan Barber writes in The Third Plate:
[O]ur country’s indomitable and abundant food, for so long the envy of the world, is unstable, if not broken. Eroding soils, falling water tables for irrigation, collapsing fisheries, shrinking forests, and deteriorating grasslands represent only a handful of the environmental problems wrought by our food system—problems that will continue to multiply with rising temperatures.
Our health has suffered, too. Rising rates of food-borne illnesses, malnutrition, and diet-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes are traced, at least in part, to our mass production of food. The warnings are clear: because we in a way that undermines health and abuses natural resources (to say nothing of the economic and social implications), the conventional food system cannot be sustained.
Michelle Obama Hosts Farm-To-Table Lunch For Spouses Of World Leaders

POCANTICO HILL, NY – SEPTEMBER 24, 2010: U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, Colombian First Lady Maria Clemencia Rodriguez De Santos (2nd R), Haitian First Lady Elisabeth D. Preval (R), and Executive Chef of Blue Hill restaurant Dan Barber (4th R) talk with students from JFK Magnet School and Pocantico Hills Central School at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture on September 24, 2010 in Pocantico Hills, Westchester county, New York. The visit is part of the First Lady’s healthy eating program. (Photo by Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images)

According to Michelle Obama, Dan Barber’s vegetables are so mind-blowingly amazing the first time she ate them, that she immediately appointed him to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. He is the first chef on the council. In 2014, Rachael Ray was appointed to the council.
One problem is that Americans are spending more of their food budget on processed foods.
And we are feeding our children processed foods at school.
The sad reality is we are feeding our children to death in this country. The fast food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children. Nearly all (98%) of food advertisements viewed by our kids are for processed products that are high in fat, sugar or salt.
To make matters worse, most schools across the country are serving highly processed, heat-and-serve meals that reinforce the bad eating habits and food trends that have helped contribute to this crisis.
Mark Bittman
Mark Bittman’s New York Times op-ed:
Eating patterns are set when we’re young, and 31 million kids eat federally assisted school lunches. Thus the school lunch program is more than just an opportunity to feed hungry kids. It’s an opportunity to shape how kids — and grown-ups — will eat in the future. Teaching children bad eating habits means creating yet another generation of Americans who will have to break those habits; and, given what we now know about the effect of those habits on our health, that’s nothing short of criminal.
Lucy Komisar’s New York Times op-ed:
Each day, 32 million children in the United States get lunch at schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, which uses agricultural surplus to feed children.
Sadly, it is being mismanaged and exploited. About a quarter of the school nutrition program has been privatized, much of it outsourced to food service management giants like Aramark, based in Philadelphia; Sodexo, based in France; and the Chartwells division of the Compass Group, based in Britain. They work in tandem with food manufacturers like the chicken producers Tyson and Pilgrim’s, all of which profit when good food is turned to bad.
It is nothing short of criminal what we are feeding our children in school.
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