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School lunch advocacy

Chris Perrin is part mad scientist, part glutton, and part culinary adventurer who is always ready to hit the kitchen to make something delicious. Cooking, especially for friends, has always been one of his deepest passions and explains ...

How to shape school lunch

The battle for the school lunchroom will be won in the halls of government through concerted political change. It will require that each of us fight for our health and the health of our children.

Little girl eating lunch at school

How to shape school lunch

Every day, stories leak about food managers (who report to a corporation, not a school district) refusing to feed children who can't pay, school employees throwing away children's lunches they brought from home because of alleged violations of food policy and the ever-worsening quality of the fried, greasy food that gets passed off as meals for children. Even worse, some of these meals are the only food the children will receive all day because subsidized meals are all they eat.

This situation needs to change, and it will take action by a lot of concerned voters to make that change happen. Fortunately, America is in the hands of her people. We can change by working together and taking some of the following steps.

Be informed

Whether you are mad as hell and can't take it anymore or you are curious about the state of nutrition at your or your child's school, the most potent weapon you will ever have is information. You need to know who is in charge of your school's lunch program, understand the budgetary challenges facing your school, gain insight into how school food fits into your district's priorities and learn who makes decisions about your school's food.

The fact of the matter is that there's no evil villain stroking his beard and deciding to serve unhealthy food while scary music plays in the background. Instead, the current state of school food has everything to do with a shortage of funds and a lot of demands on school resources. Any solution for better food you devise needs to work within these limitations.

Political action

The first thing you can do to affect school lunches is the same as for affecting any policy. You want to inform your state and federal elected officials through constant email and letter communication that you want change. You can also do the same for the USDA as they oversee school lunches and the agencies responsible for your state. Get other like-minded individuals involved, especially students with dietary restrictions and their parents to speak with their elected representatives.

Slow Food USA

If you can't find a concerned parent's group, contact Slow Food USA. There are chapters in most major cities and the national organization is very concerned about school lunches. Sign up for their mailing list when you visit their site as it will be a great resource about governmental policies that affect food and agriculture. Joining your local Slow Food USA group is also a great way to meet other people who care about good, healthy food.

Find advocacy groups

You may be lucky enough to live in a city that has a local group already working on the issue. Use the internet to find one such as the School Nutrition Association, Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools or School Food Focus. If such a group doesn't exist, contact those other groups and find out how to start one.

Use the Web

The internet also has a number of sites geared toward food advocacy. They highlight resources, bills and issues that affect school lunches. Read these sites and use their tips on how to get involved.

More thoughts on the challenges of school lunch

Michelle Obama's school lunch program makes kids hungry
What's wrong with school meals?

School lunch: Pack it or buy it?

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