School Lunch Reform

First came Fast Food Nation. Then, Super Size Me. The latest installment in the man-aren’t-we-Americans-disgusting-in-what-we-eat comes to us delivered with a British accent in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. After seeing several comments from other moms on Facebook, I sat down and watched the three episodes which have aired so far online. This is how the show is described:

“Jamie Oliver is here to start a revolution. The impassioned chef, TV personality and best-selling author is determined to take on the high statistics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in this country, where our nation’s children are the first generation not expected to live as long as their parents. Oliver is inviting viewers to take a stand and change the way America eats, in our home kitchens, schools and workplaces, with this thought-provoking new series.”

Most of what I saw I expected: further confirmation that kids are becoming more removed from where their food comes from, further sadness that some children can’t recognize vegetables LIKE A TOMATO (c’mon kids, don’t you see the picture of the tomato on the ketchup bottle?) and increased angst about my son entering the public school system and being forever resigned to packing his lunch.

I think it’s great that the show highlights a growing number of advocates (like Kate Adamick) who have changed their career path to lobby for changes in the meals we serve our children and a switch back to made-from-scratch meals and away from processed fare. If school lunch reform is the basis for a reality show, you know a critical mass is concerned about the issue and more will be made aware of the obvious link between raising childhood obesity rates and what is being served in our lunchrooms.Advertisement
On one hand, I do feel lucky to live here in Austin and be surrounded by people who care about locally grown food. On the other hand, I cringe when I remember mentoring a Fulmore middle schooler and seeing that her lunch consisted of hot Cheetos, Powerade and fries (I felt like I was seriously helping her by taking her to Pizza Hut!)

For those of you with school-aged children, how do you feel about what’s served in Austin’s schools? How do you feel it compares to what was being served in Huntington, West Virginia? What efforts are you aware about locally to improve what’s served to Central Texas students?

Written by: Nicole Basham

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

6 Comments on School Lunch Reform

  1. We need to all get involved with our schools. But also at the federal level where we need to tell congress to better fund the school lunch program. Thanks!

  2. I feel like we’ve come a long way since I was in school. We used to have choices between fried burritos, hamburgers, pizza- all very unhealthy stuff without a whole lot of options for fruit or vegetables. At one point, my lunch diet consisted of Skittles and a Coke.

    Now, when I eat lunch with my son at school, I notice lots of fruit, vegetables, and yogurt as options (and the kids seem to eat the healthy stuff too). While I think we still have a long way to go, I don’t stress as much about what he gets at school, knowing that he generally eats a very well-balanced diet.

    One complaint that I do have is that they have ice cream and cookie options for the kids on a daily basis. But I believe that the account can be locked somehow so that the kids aren’t allowed to buy anything outside of their normal lunch. I am lucky though to have an eleven year old boy who has always had an appetite for healthy food and has often times passed up ice cream for salad! When my three year old starts school (she’s a known sugar addict) it will be an entirely different story!

  3. Peta, thanks for documenting Hoboken’s school lunches. I grew up Greek too and just had an amazing Greek Easter meal with very wholesome ingredients. Your point reminds me of a shirt I have which says “It’ll be a great day when education gets all the money it wants and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers.”

  4. My daughter will be starting kindergarten in August. After watching Jamie’s series so far, I looked at the PISD lunch and breakfast menu and was disheartened to see much of what is offered at Huntington at my local school.

    To be fair, it appears as if there is a movement within the district to discuss foods that can be eaten regularly (green light foods), not as often (yellow light foods) and rarely (red light foods) resulting in a menu where each food available is given a green, red or yellow light.

    My biggest concern was that every day yellow light foods were served and knowing most children palates, those are the foods they would select. Why even serve yellow light foods daily and red light foods at all?

    We are fortunte enough to have the opportunity to attend a charter school next year — the food menus (along with other considerations) might just make our decision for us.

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