Ready to Tackle School Food Issues?
Oh how I remember my favorite “hot lunch” days during my school years. The chunky chicken soup with the super buttery rolls. (Was that even butter? I doubt it…It was probably margarine since it was in the 80’s). And chili day with the cinnamon rolls. And
pizza day rectangular-cardboard-with-fake-cheese-and-sauce-on-it-day. Ooooh yummy.
Now that I have kids that are in school, I am smack-dab in the middle of this all. While I do believe that compared to last year things on the school lunch menu are improving, there is still a lot to be desired. School lunches are one thing, but the treats, rewards and party food are a whole other issue.
How do you even begin to tackle this problem?
My friend Sharon in Kalamazoo, MI has been doing this recently in their kids’ school district. She has been a great source of information for me as I contemplate doing the same in our area.
Here are some sources she listed that I want to share with all of you:
1. Project LEAN Health (apparently there is USDA money that can be used in counties for nutrition education?) I’m definitely going to check into this.
2. Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program. You can check it out at www.healthiergeneration.org/schools. Here’s what Sharon wrote to me when I asked for her input/advice:
We currently have 7 KPS schools utilizing this program and they love it! They get 5 years of support and contact with a specialist from the program to help them work through some beginnings challenges. There is a great website where you input currently information on your school in certain areas and it computes out for you what you should focus on first and certain action steps. This is a free program and really wants to make a difference in our schools. We are working on getting all of KPS schools involved with this because it is an organization and system already set up and ready to go, so we don’t have to start from the beginning. I would definitely recommend checking this out!
I’m glad you are taking this step. Our schools need to change and until we as parents rise up, there will not be a lot of changes. We have actually decided to first move forward with getting competitive foods out of our schools and changing the snacks and party food. Then we will undertake the food served at lunch. There are programs like Farm to School grants where you can get money to incorporate farm fresh food into the lunches. KPS applied for it this year but didn’t get it. You can also talk to South Haven schools. They hired a consultant to help them figure out food issues and from what I’ve heard, they have made some amazing changes!
3. Lunch Wars – I just bought this book and it arrived yesterday! This book is written for parents who are interested in changing the food culture of their childrens’ schools. It outlines where to start and gives you tools to make it happen.
In fact, my Real Food friends Sarah and Stacey are getting together with me in a couple weeks to start brainstorming. I like the idea of starting with snacks and rewards, then moving to class party foods and then lunches.
By the way, the author of this book also was a part of the movie “Two Angry Moms“, which came before this book. The movie (I haven’t seen yet) talks about the connection between what our kids eat at school and how it impacts their behavior, learning and health.
I will keep you all posted on what we begin with and where we are going. Maybe this could help start a school food “revolution” of sorts??? I know many people are starting to understand the Real Food crisis here in our country and culture. If we start with our kids, educating them on healthy/nutritious/nutrient-dense foods, we could change the future health of our country! How amazing would that be.
Tell me, have you spoken out against unhealthy food in your childs’ school? Any tips? Any successes to share?
More to come……