Los Angeles

In the News (part 2)… Wednesday, August 19, 2009

School lunches are more and more in the news, which itself is good news. Slow Food USA’s Time For Lunch campaign is in full swing, and today’s news links reflects that:

† “Why a Twenty-Something Should Care About School Lunch“: Claire Stanford shares her twenty-something perspective on school lunches on the Civil Eats blog and makes the case that even those who don’t have children in school and who no longer eat school lunches have a stake in this year’s review and renewal of the Child Nutrition Act.

† “Stars Aligning on School Lunches”: And it’s about time! Kim Severson reports in today’s New York Times about the unprecedented level of interest and commitment to making positive and significant changes in school food programs:

[Chef Ann Cooper’s] invitation [to the School Nutrition Association’s meeting] is a small sign of larger changes happening in public school cafeterias. For the first time since a new wave of school food reform efforts began a decade ago, once-warring camps are sharing strategies to improve what kids eat. The Department of Agriculture is welcoming ideas from community groups and more money than ever is about to flow into school cafeterias, from Washington and from private providers.

“The window’s open,” said Kathleen Merrigan, the deputy secretary of agriculture. “We are in the zone when a whole lot of exciting ideas are being put on the table. I have been working in the field of sustainable agriculture and nutrition all my professional life, and I really have never seen such opportunity before.”

Read the complete article online.

† What’s in that school lunch? It depends on where you are….: Mary MacVean reported in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times on a study of the top ten foods children are eating in school. Although the report doesn’t distinguish between forms of food (such as between chicken nuggets and other, less processed forms of chicken), it does offer a timely view into school lunchrooms.

Also worth reading: 5 Worst School Lunch Menu Items; the School Nutrition Association’s report on the State of School Nutrition–clearly, many schools are trying to improve the food available to students, but they need more resources; and what do children in other countries eat for lunch? The variety may surprise you!

† Let the School-Meals Revolution Begin!: Marion Nestle acknowledges that the food revolution has reached America’s schools, but notes that there’s more progress to be made. Dr Nestle also makes the point that “school meal programs need and deserve more money” and encourages readers to join Slow Food USA’s Time For Lunch campaign to press for more funding and for other meaningful changes in the National School Lunch Program. (For viewers of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, Marion Nestle is schedule to be the guest on tonight’s program.)

† Having an honest debate about school food: On BeyondChron, Dana Woldow considers some of the arguments and proposals concerning school food and why an honest debate about the costs and benefits is needed. This isn’t an all-or-nothing debate, and Woldow reminds us that it’s important to take a holistic view.

† Local coverage: Many thanks to Leah Greenstein for writing what we hope will be the first of several contributions to L.A. Weekly‘s Squid Ink feature on the Time For Lunch campaign.

† What Questions Do Schoolchildren Have?: Damon Weaver got the interview many journalists only dream about: Sitting down one-on-one with President Obama, at the White House, and having the opportunity to talk about a range of issues. On Damon’s agenda: Asking the President about improving schools and school food. Damon’s food questions start at 4:28, but the 10-minute video covers a wide range of subjects, including being bullied in school, what schoolchildren can do to make the country better, and whether the President can still dunk a basketball:

Video produced and posted by KEC TV, a television news program that is produced by 5th- and 6th-grade students at the KEC/Canal Point Elementary School under the guidance of Brian Zimmerman.