Most kids will be proud to have Mom, Dad, or Grandma join them for lunch. Some might be a little bit embarrassed. If that’s the case, you can plan your lunch date as a group event with several other parents, so that your child won’t feel singled out. If you’re ready to draw some attention to the school food issue in your district, organize a Lunch-In — a day or week when lots of parents join their children for breakfast or lunch. Notify your school’s food service director ahead of time so he or she can plan ahead for some extra meals. Let the food service director know that you are an ally, not an adversary, and that your intention is to bring attention to the importance of the school food environment and gather resources and support for making improvements.
There’s a trade group for everything, and school food is no exception. Largely supported by contributions from the food industry its members purchase from, the School Nutrition Association (SNA) represents school food service workers. The organization promotes a National School Lunch Week each year in late October. Since the release of Two Angry Moms, we have encouraged parents to attend a school Lunch-In during the SNA’s National School Lunch Week. The goal for the SNA is to bring awareness to the school meals program. Our goal is to up the ante by examining the quality of the food and the school food environment.
Most schools publish their weekly or monthly menus online. I’ve got a Connecticut middle school lunch menu in front of me with a Wednesday entrée seductively called Love at First Delight. It’s described as a roasted turkey breast sandwich with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Russian dressing on a kaiser roll. I might have named it Détente, but the description does make it sound like a yummy lunch. A menu from Birmingham, Alabama, simply describes Wednesday’s meal as “Lasagna, green beans, corn on the cob, tossed salad, orange wedges, sugar cookie, roll, and milk.” Sound like good, filling comfort food. So what’s the reality of these two meals? Are they tasty and healthy? Or are they nasty, greasy, soggy, and full of chemicals? You don’t need a nutrition degree to conduct a good investigation, but you do need to look beyond the menu.
Excerpted from Lunch Wars: How to Start a Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health by Amy Kalafa. Published by Tarcher/Penguin.
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