YOU Can Help Make School Lunches Healthier!

Written by Ocean Robbins

How are our children supposed to learn when their school lunches fill them with junk?

In 2009, the School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study, published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, evaluated the school meal program based on nearly 400 public schools.

The study found that:

  • Only 39% offered green salad
  • Only 29% offered orange or dark green vegetables
  • Only 10% offered legumes
  • More than 95% of grain products were made from refined white flour

One in three children in the US is overweight or obese, and a third of our nation’s kids are at risk for, or already have, type 2 diabetes. You don’t need to be a radical food activist to see a connection between childhood health and the food we give our kids.

The US’s national school lunch program serves an estimated 30 million lunches per day, and some kids growing up in poverty depend on the school lunch program for their survival.

Don’t Blame The Schools

Schools that want to serve healthy food face an uphill battle. One longstanding barrier is the USDA’s commodity foods program, which distributes large quantities of unhealthful “entitlement foods” and gives them to schools for free. Every year, the USDA purchases hundreds of millions of dollars worth of pork, beef, and other high-fat, high-cholesterol animal products, primarily as an economic benefit to American agribusiness. In 2005, for example, the USDA allocated close to 60 percent of food program procurement expenditures to meat, dairy, and egg products, while providing less than 5 percent to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

Inspiring Changes

Despite rising food costs and unhealthy government subsidies, many schools are working hard to move their menus in the right direction. School gardens are on the rise, and increasing numbers of schools are sourcing some fruits and vegetables locally.

For example, students in Omaha, NE, now have the option of choosing a vegetarian entrée each day, and all vegetarian items are clearly marked on the lunch menu. Fresh fruit is available daily, as is fruit juice at no extra cost to students. Low-fat vegetable side dishes are available daily.

What You Can Do

Whether you have kids in your life or not, there are steps you can take to build a healthier future for the next generation.

1) Make Good Food Fun

Research suggests eating habits are developed early on in a child’s life — often times before the age of 6. Super Sprowtz bridges the gap for parents and educators who are looking for tools and ways to engage their families and students to eat more vegetables and make healthier food choices. Their motto is Good Food Made Fun. Check out their amazing library of videos, curricula, and other resources by visiting supersprowtz.com/.

2) Take Action In Your School District

You can get excellent tools and resources to help inspire your school district to take healthy steps from Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Healthy School Lunch Program and from healthyschoolfood.org.

3) Join The Food Revolution

You teach best by example. Join the movement for healthy, sustainable, humane and delicious food and get tools, insights and inspiration from a community of peers at foodrevolution.org.

NOTE: This is a guest post from Ocean Robbins, founder and co-host (with bestselling author John Robbins) of the 32,000-member Food Revolution Network, an initiative to help you heal your body, and your world… with food. He is an author, facilitator, movement builder, and father of special needs twins.

 

Related Stories:

Could New School Lunch Rules Mean More Food in the Trash?

Arizona Proposes Ending Free School Lunches for Needy Kids

Michelle Obama Helps Debut Healthier School Lunches

 

Photo from thinkstockphotos.com

65 comments

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers16 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

Amatsiko Organisation

Hi, i would like to start a permaculture home gardens in my community. Our vision is to address the scourge of malnutrition and mortality among young mothers and infants and offer nutritional security to other vulnerable groups, through providing diverse, nutritious food grown in Permaculture home-gardens. And also these food stuff will be supplied to our community school at Amatsiko. For those of you there who would to know and get involved with our programs is highly welcome. For more details, visit our website , www.amatsiko.org

Thanks.

Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad3 years ago

Yes you can!

Penny Bacon
.3 years ago

Thanks

Jane Fox
Jane Fox3 years ago

Thanks

Stella Ward
Stella Ward3 years ago

When I lived in Austin, I addressed the issue of healthy foods in my daughter's school with the PTA and contacted those responsible for the food choices in the schools. I got nowhere with this issue and since my daughter was with the free food program due to low income she was stuck with eating the garbage they gave her. She would refuse to eat breakfast there and would go hungry until lunch time. My nephews and nieces in Sacramento always complained about the food choices in their school which not only were unhealthy, but were disgusting as well i.e. pizza topped with sugar etc. It is ridiculous that the schools allow only one choice of vegetable and fruit or NOT 100% juice, but there was plenty of meat and junk food to eat as much as they wanted.

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson3 years ago

thanks

Penny Bacon
.3 years ago

Thanks.

Past Member
Dolly Navina L.3 years ago

WE CAN & WE WILL !

Leia P.
Leia P.3 years ago

cool