Slow Food Los Angeles believes that good, clean, and fair food is a right, not a privilege, and we are excited to share news about our participation in Slow Food USA’s Time For Lunch campaign.
Why School Lunches?
Every school day in the United States, the National School Lunch Program provides meals to more than 30 million children.
This fall, the Child Nutrition Act, the federal legislation that governs the lunch program, is up for reauthorization by Congress. By raising awareness among legislators about the important and far-reaching effects of school lunches and encouraging them to make children’s health a priority, we can take the first step toward a future in which no child is denied his or her right to be healthy and where every child enjoys real food.
The need for real school food has never been more pressing. Today, one in four children is overweight or obese, and one in three will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime. For many children, a school lunch is their only guaranteed meal of the day, and the current lunch program offers children the choice between going hungry or eating unhealthy food.
We Can Do Better!: The Time For Lunch Platform
Slow Food Los Angeles joins with Slow Food USA to call upon Congress and the Obama administration to:
+ Invest in children’s health by giving schools just $1.00 more per day for each child’s lunch. The $2.57 per child reimbursement that a school receives for every free lunch it provides must cover not only the food that’s served but also labor, equipment, and other overhead costs. With less than half of that reimbursement being used to purchase food, how can schools be expected to feed our children a healthy meal? Increasing the reimbursement rate to $3.57 is the first step.
+ Protect children against food that puts them at risk. Congress should establish strong standards for all food sold in schools, including food from vending machines and fast food available on school premises.
+ Teach children healthy habits that will last them a lifetime. Every child deserves the opportunity to learn healthy eating habits at school. The 2004 Child Nutrition Act provided schools with grants to cover the initial costs of starting school gardens and purchasing local foods, but Congress never followed through by appropriating funds for these grants. We ask Congress to fund grants for innovative farm-to-school and school garden programs.
+ Give schools the incentive to buy local by establishing subsidies to encourage schools to buy food from local farms for all child nutrition programs.
+ Create green jobs with a School Lunch Corps that would train those who are underemployed to be the teachers, farmers, cooks, and administrators our school cafeterias need.
Now’s the Time: The Time For Lunch Campaign
Slow Food Los Angeles is asking members and friends to spread the word while there is time to influence the 2009 Child Nutrition Act. Along with more than 200 other Slow Food chapters around the country, Slow Food Los Angeles is encouraging you to:
1. Sign the Time For Lunch petition to show your support for making real food a priority for school lunches.
2. Tell your legislators to give schools the resources to serve real food for lunch. Whether it’s by letter, phone, fax, or email, let your representatives know that you want school lunches to be a priority, not an afterthought. In the coming days, we’ll share contact information, sample letters, and suggestions for how to communicate your support of the Time For Lunch platform to your representatives.
3. Participate in a Los Angeles-area Eat-In this Labor Day, September 7, 2009. Labor Day will be a National Day of Action at which Slow Food members and friends will gather with those in their communities to demonstrate our commitment to this issue. Eat-Ins are being organized in several communities in Los Angeles including gatherings in Elysian Park, Highland Park, and Hollywood, and details for other locations are being finalized. Information about Slow Food Los Angeles Eat-Ins will be announced in the coming days: where, when, and how you can participate.