12 Things every school food activist should know
- Recognize what’s at stakeThe factory foods served in most schools are not only unhealthy; they lead to behavior and learning problems. Then schools and communities spend a fortune trying to fix the issues that result. Behavior and learning problems in childhood mean potential failure as adults. The US is far behind other countries in math and science, and learning problems — now being experienced by one child in ten — will increase that gap. Children need more than full bellies in order to learn; they also need fuel for their brains.
- Eat it!Don’t believe what you read on the school lunch menu. And don’t make a judgment about the cafeteria food without checking it out. Go to the school and actually eat that food (if you can stomach it). At least take a close look, and smell it. You might find that it’s awful, but you might find that it’s really quite good. In that case, most of the suggestions below will not apply.
- Size up the challengeIf the food is bad, the next step is to test the waters. Contact the food service director and see if there is any genuine interest in making improvements. If you get a brush-off, you can be sure that offering your cooperation won’t get you anywhere. You will need to gather a small group of like-minded people and use confrontation. Create a petition/web site or other resource to make use of the large number of parents who agree with you. Don’t ask for improvement – demand it!
- Beware the hypePhrases like “Fresh Cooked Food” and “We Walk the Walk” and other clever PR sleights of hand are often used to discourage parents from learning about the greasy, chemically-laden things that are really on that cafeteria tray.
- Take a look at the successful programsThere are multiple web sites in addition to this one, that can help. Here are some:
Learn what other schools have done to reform their cafeterias. See what other countries are feeding their students and be open to innovative solutions (like the British school children who eat lunch at the nearby pub – just good food, no alcohol). Consider breakfast eaten in the classroom, fresh fruit and vegetable snacks available through the day, water available all day, and open your mind to the possibilities of free, healthy food for all children. (The arguments for it are compelling.)
- Avoid the extremesBe alert that some of the school lunch initiatives are actually prompted by…to finish reading article click here
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