Hard as this may be to swallow, the number one meal served to children in U.S. schools is chicken fingers and french fries.
While the National School Lunch Program is tremendously underfunded — the money allotted per child doesn’t cover the cost of an entire meal — one can’t argue its vital importance to families in need. What one can argue, is the quality of the food schools serve.
Chef Alice Waters, chef and owner of the famed Berkeley, CA restaurant Chez Panisse and founder of The Chez Panisse Foundation, not to mention mother of the slow food movement, wants to change that. Waters and her foundation envision “a school curriculum and school lunch program where growing, cooking, and sharing food at the table gives students the knowledge and values to build a humane and sustainable future.”
Take a look:
As CNN pointed out in a recent report:
- A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 94 percent of school lunches failed to meet the U.S. Agriculture Department’s regulatory standards. None of the schools met the sodium benchmark, based on the 2005 dietary guidelines.
- One in five schools served lunches that met the total fat standard.
- Another study from 2009 that looked at children who participated in the National School Lunch Program found they were more likely to gain weight than other children.
Hopes for increased funding for the National School Lunch Program were dashed last week when the Child Nutrition Bill stalled in Congress. According to the CNN report: the Obama administration had asked for more than $10 billion to improve the program over 10 years. The current bill cuts that money in half. If the bill had passed, districts would have gotten about a 6-cent increase per child. So still not nearly enough, but at least it would have been a step in the right direction. Let us know what you think about the National School Lunch Program, and what Alice Waters has to say.
Constantin Opris | Dreamstime.com