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#61
Posted January 5th 2010, 11:01pm
I was fortunate to spend my 40th birthday dining with my older sister and one of her friends, Ann Cooper, author of[url] Lunch Lessons and who has since been given the label of the "Renegade Lunch Lady." She was hired by Alice Waters to implement the food end of the Garden in the School program in California and she did it successfully for several years, but then of course, all the money dried up. But she knows all the crazy federal/state/city purchasing challenges that face a school merely getting food at all. And she knows how to slice her way through govt speak -- Purchase Orders and RFPs and other gov't gobbledygook that we don't want to wrap our brains around when thinking about why our kids eating doughnuts AND cereal for breakfast.

Mhays, I don't know if you already know of her but I would be happy to get you her email. She is really well rounded and a bit of a spitfire. I agree with Alice Waters that Arnie Duncan needs to be involved. I also (somewhere) have the direct email for the newly appointed Office of Public Engagement. It's great that the Obama's want to eat more thoughtfully at the White House, but I think it's much more important that our children eat more thoughtfully at school.

bjt
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#62
Posted January 7th 2010, 2:16pm
The other side of the story.

Hmmm....something about that hummos recipe sounds strangely familiar....I just wonder where she might have gotten the idea to substitute something cheaper for tahini...something doesn't cause as many allergies as peanut butter... :x
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#63
Posted January 7th 2010, 2:31pm
Mhays wrote:The other side of the story.

Hmmm....something about that hummos recipe sounds strangely familiar....I just wonder where she might have gotten the idea to substitute something cheaper for tahini...something doesn't cause as many allergies as peanut butter... :x

Spin is a wonderful thing, isn't it? :wink:

Jennie Berkson at Evanston Rountable wrote:The cafeteria serves name brand products such as Tyson, Land O’ Lakes, Pepperidge Farms and Frito-Lay.

There's your trouble.

=R=
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#64
Posted January 7th 2010, 2:32pm

The site is denying access -- any chance there's a cache of this, or can you reprint the info here?
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#65
Posted January 7th 2010, 2:56pm
Joel - FB IM sent, see if that works for you.

ronnie_suburban wrote:
Jennie Berkson at Evanston Rountable wrote:The cafeteria serves name brand products such as Tyson, Land O’ Lakes, Pepperidge Farms and Frito-Lay.

There's your trouble.

=R=


Ronnie, you're exactly right - another parent brought this up to me a while back, and I've been kicking myself for missing it as an obvious part of the problem. Not only do they serve brand-name factory-foods, there is a LOT of product placement: take a look at the posted menus upthread. In addition, the kids get the chips, etc, in their branded packaging. Many of these branded items are pure empty calories. I am guessing that this is the way that schools can afford packaged junk food: they must get them cheaply because the food companies are well aware of the exposure they're getting (all of them have special "food service" versions.)

Case in point: I'd never heard of Goldfish crackers when I was a kid, but suddenly they are the accepted "healthy" kids' snack, even though they have minimal nutritional value - the power of product placement.

I'm really annoyed that I didn't think of this before we contacted our Congresswoman, but it's something that should be part of the Child Nutrition Act.
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#66
Posted January 7th 2010, 3:08pm
Michelle, I completely agree with what you are doing and applaud you for it (I am a product of the District 65/202 system and hope to be a parent of children in it one day.) As you know, the school has strong incentives to do what they are doing. They aren't serving these food options out of ignorance. They key is to change these incentives. One way to do that is to influence the regulatory regime under which they work. Another complementary method is to change parents' views: get parents to want the school lunches to be better. Make parents realize that if they want better options, it is going to cost something. I haven't read this entire thread, so I apologize if I missed this. But I wonder what steps are being taken to influence parents, in addition to influencing the schools.
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#67
Posted January 7th 2010, 3:18pm
Thankfully I havent been in school for a long time, but is it common for schools to feed/offer kids breakfast and lunch?

When I was growing up in the 1970's & 1980's I ate breakfast at home, and brought a bag lunch to school. The cafeteria food was pretty bad back then, and a homemade lunch was a better, and cheaper option for my working class folks.

With cutbacks everywhere, and tax dollars already stretched thin I am not sure how much support any initiative will get to make any changes. I know my property taxes are pretty darn high even out in the country where I live(over $6,400/year), with most of it going to the schools(I am all for this, education is invaluable). I would not support a tax increase to improve the menu offerings.


With a daughter nearing school age of course I am concerned with her diet, but I think she will do as her dad did. Eat breakfast @ home, and bring a lunch with her. It starts at home imho.

Good cause, and a good fight, just not sure how it can be implemented.
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#68
Posted January 7th 2010, 5:38pm
Darren72 wrote:But I wonder what steps are being taken to influence parents, in addition to influencing the schools.

You're 100% right, Darren - from this thread, I can see where this may come across as a one-woman fight, but I'm actually representing a coalition of parents and teachers from the school district, along with a citizens coalition of people throughout Congresswoman Schakowsky's district. There is a google group (Evanston Healthy Communities) on the subject, and the PTA Council and various individual PTAs have been helpful in spreading the word about what parents can do. Many voices is, indeed, the key.

I'm fairly heavily engaged in Evanston in many ways - I have to say, this is the first time I've come across a situation so extreme in its resistance to outside ideas and requests. I am sure that it is in large part because, justifiably, the school nutritionists are tired of being the dumping ground for so many complaints (Apparently bone-in chicken was removed from the menu because a parent complained it was a choking hazard for school-age children. Why that parent was listened to, while those of us objecting to packaged waffles are not is another question entirely.)

That being said, there's a lot of room for improvement, and we've discovered many of our requests were already a part of the Magnet school's menu, so improvement is possible.
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#69
Posted January 7th 2010, 6:34pm
JimInLoganSquare sent me this article. It expresses many of the specific concerns I have about the way kids are being fed under NSLP - and counters much of the rhetoric in the linked article above. In particular I agree with this statement:
If depriving schoolchildren 100 years ago grew out of the social Darwinist view that suffering and want build character, the current, equally ridiculous system owes much to poor eating habits at home, and to the philosophy that children must above all be enabled as autonomous decisionmakers from the day they take their first step. Parents these days feel an almost crippling need not to overstep—they must guide children’s choices, rather than intervene and make those choices on the children’s behalf. Poppendieck describes her consternation at seeing cafeteria workers catering to a child’s every impulsive demand, rather than, as in her day, intervening when Junior tries to substitute an extra brownie for his broccoli.


I don't think universal free lunch is the answer, but this philosophy is a large part of the problem with School Lunch.
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#70
Posted January 7th 2010, 7:30pm
Mhays wrote:I don't think universal free lunch is the answer, but this philosophy is a large part of the problem with School Lunch.


There are a lot of people in the NSLP who thing that the meals MUST be universal. Even as far back as the mid-sixties, one school principal gave my aunt grief as she would not allow my cousins to participate in the program. My aunt's belief was that they had a good income and did not need free meals as she was capable os sending the kids to school with lunches. The principal was upset that such behavior would stigmatize those who particpated.
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#71
Posted January 7th 2010, 8:30pm
I haven't read the book in the linked article, but I think there are legitimate ways to address the privacy issue: one, which we've asked to be considered in the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, is to eliminate "competitive foods" entirely (that is, foods that don't meet guidelines for NSLP) instead of requiring that they be served in a different location - which is being done in many districts already. Your aunt's principal was right - the separate cafeterias, IMO, are a real problem - check upthread.

Another is to offer a blind accounting system (handled somewhat clumsily but simply in our district by assigning each child an account number and asking parents to pay for lunches in advance; lunch money is collected during first period.) If you wanted to figure out which kids got free lunch, you'd have to make a guess based solely on how often they get a hot lunch (I know some free lunch kids who frequently pack lunches.)
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#72
Posted January 8th 2010, 11:04pm
jimswside wrote:With a daughter nearing school age of course I am concerned with her diet, but I think she will do as her dad did. Eat breakfast @ home, and bring a lunch with her. It starts at home imho.

Judging from your cooking posts, Jim, I'm sure that your daughter will have the best bag lunches at her school, as well as having a great breakfast each morning. But here in the city (and no doubt in the suburbs and the country too), there are, unfortunately, many kids who depend on both school breakfast and lunch to eat. There are kids who are hungry on weekends without school meals. And this makes it even more vital that they are fed properly by the schools.
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#73
Posted January 9th 2010, 8:40am
EvA wrote:
jimswside wrote:With a daughter nearing school age of course I am concerned with her diet, but I think she will do as her dad did. Eat breakfast @ home, and bring a lunch with her. It starts at home imho.

Judging from your cooking posts, Jim, I'm sure that your daughter will have the best bag lunches at her school, as well as having a great breakfast each morning. But here in the city (and no doubt in the suburbs and the country too), there are, unfortunately, many kids who depend on both school breakfast and lunch to eat. There are kids who are hungry on weekends without school meals. And this makes it even more vital that they are fed properly by the schools.


thanks,

I guess I didnt think about kids in that situation. Where the food that is offered @ school is the only food they may get, and what will shape their diet for the future.
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#74
Posted January 9th 2010, 9:51am
Another point worth mentioning - the School Nutritionist's Association is asking that the "reduced" lunch category be eliminated and rolled into "free." I think they are right - many lower-middle-class parents are struggling to pay for school lunch. Even $.40 per kid adds up when you've got several kids at school - we heard at the meeting that principals at different schools sometimes subsidize children out of their own pockets, most often in this category.

I wonder what would happen if we eliminated the reimbursement for full-price lunches. After all, why are we paying anything towards lunches for those who are demonstrably able to afford it? I understand that this must be an incentive to address the privacy issues above, but it in large part is the reason why so many of the foods pander to a kid's palate: districts get more money per meal for full-price lunches, and the full-price kids are most likely to bring a lunch on the days when school lunch doesn't please them. At the very least, the school lunch prices should be the same, regardless of category.
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#75
Posted January 24th 2010, 11:02am
Someone managed to do what I've been unable to do; this is a new blog, entitled Fed Up: School Lunch Project. You get a much better idea of what the kids are eating from these pictures than from the ones on our school's website. This doesn't appear to be our school district; I don't recognize these specific products, but the general idea is the same. Note the reliance on canned fruit vs canned vegetables.
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#76
Posted February 8th 2010, 8:59am
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#77
Posted February 8th 2010, 11:59am
Almost missed this one, thanks, Suzy: Lunchroom waste, and the corrolary: breakfast trash.
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#78
Posted February 8th 2010, 12:30pm



I wouldnt hold my breath . :lol:
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#79
Posted February 8th 2010, 1:10pm
Actually, this is a national movement that has taken hold in most places: our school district had taken steps to address this issue several years ago; if you look at the article, I believe it says that 1/3 of school districts already follow these standards. Right now, if students in Evanston want to buy sodas or candy, they have to go off-campus to get them.
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#80
Posted February 17th 2010, 9:06am
Bittman tweeted this blog today.....A teacher in Illinois fed up with the school lunch.

Eating school lunch just like the kids every day in 2010
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#81
Posted February 17th 2010, 9:35am
I went to school a long time ago, and my family was on the lower side of middle class. There were two options for lunch. One was to buy a hot lunch ticket for 35 cents. The lunch was delivered on a long metal cart by a couple of ladies in white uniforms. The second option was to bring a sack lunch and buy a milk ticket for 2 cents. My mother chose the second option, but came up with ways to vary the sandwich/carrot stick sack lunch. One that I remember is this: she heated some chicken noodle soup and poured it into a thermos bottle (the old kind with a cork). Then she tied a string around a hot dog, lowered it into the soup, and tied the other end to the top of the thermos. Add a bun with ketchup in a waxed paper bag, an apple, and, voila...a hot lunch for pennies.
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#82
Posted March 18th 2010, 10:31pm
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#83
Posted March 20th 2010, 9:44am
Senator Blanche Lincoln's NSLP, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

Haven't had a chance to read the actual legislation, but there are some very interesting features in the summary:

Many different strategies to improve access to low-income children and reduce paperwork, for instance, under "A Path to End Childhood Hunger:"

  1. Schools that can demonstrate that they are comprised primarily of low-income students, the entire school can give lunches for free.
  2. School meal providers have to connect with, support, and promote summer lunch programs which will be expanded.
  3. Foster children automatically qualify.
  4. Afterschool meals for at-risk children will be available nationwide.

Under "Promoting Health and Reducing Childhood Obesity:"

  1. National nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools.
  2. Performance-based increase in the federal reimbursement rate*.
  3. Farm-to-school programs.
  4. Mandatory funding for school gardens.

All in all, it isn't the amount of money people were asking for, but many of these things look very, very exciting. I am of the opinion that we can do much better with the money we have, so I'm glad to see much of this legislation targeted the way it is.

*This is one issue I want to look into with more detail - is this the incentive program we asked for from Congresswoman Schakowsky?
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#84
Posted March 20th 2010, 10:14am
Text of the full bill

To answer my own question earlier, in section 201, here's the wording:

‘‘(C) ADDITIONAL REIMBURSEMENT.— ‘‘(i) IN GENERAL.—Each lunch served in school food authorities determined to be eligible under subparagraph (D) shall receive an additional 6 cents, adjusted in accordance with section 11(a)(3), to the national lunch average payment for each lunch served.
‘‘(ii) DISBURSEMENT.—The State7 agency shall disburse funds made available under this paragraph to school food authorities eligible to receive additional reimbursement.
‘‘(D) ELIGIBLE SCHOOL FOOD AUTHORITY.—To be eligible to receive an additional reimbursement described in this paragraph, a school food authority shall be certified by the State to be in compliance with the interim or final regulations described in subparagraph (A)(ii).

:shock: Going back to (A) (ii)
‘‘(ii) INTERIM OR FINAL REGULATIONS.— ‘‘(I) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 18 months after promulgation of the proposed regulations under clause (i), the Secretary shall promulgate interim or final regulations.
‘‘(II) DATE OF REQUIRED COMPLIANCE.—The Secretary shall establish in the interim or final regulations a date by which all school food authorities participating in the school lunch program authorized under this Act and the school breakfast program established by section 4 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1773) are required to comply with the meal pattern and nutrition standards
24 established in the interim or final regulations.

Near as my bear-of-very-little-brain brain can figure out, yes, this is the incentive program we asked for - but they haven't yet figured out the standards for it. FTW, though!
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#85
Posted March 20th 2010, 10:37am
I keep finding more and more cool stuff as I read over this bill (even though translating it into English is making my head spin!) For instance -

‘‘(5) WATER.—Schools participating in theschool lunch program under this Act shall make available to children free of charge, as nutritionally appropriate, potable water for consumption in the place where meals are served during meal service.’’

This seems like something they should be doing already, but they aren't - there isn't even a drinking fountain in our school cafeteria. This is enormously important to kids who can't drink milk, and something I vastly prefer to requiring juice."
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#86
Posted March 23rd 2010, 10:19am
Chicago high schoolers to demand better food at board meeting. From my experience of Chicago Public Schools board meetings, I expect this will generate good publicity but little action from the board. I'd love to be proved wrong.
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#87
Posted March 23rd 2010, 2:05pm
EvA wrote:Chicago high schoolers to demand better food at board meeting. From my experience of Chicago Public Schools board meetings, I expect this will generate good publicity but little action from the board. I'd love to be proved wrong.



I read the article. One has to wonder what went so terribly wrong with the CPS in that they have a "Social Justice High School".
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#88
Posted March 24th 2010, 9:18am
Chicago schools reducing nachos to once a week! Seriously, as a mother of a CPS high school student, I hope CPS is making genuine improvements in their breakfast and lunch offerings.
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#89
Posted March 24th 2010, 10:14am
It is amazing what can happen when people get involved, and kudos to Monica Eng for bringing it to the light.
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#90
Posted March 24th 2010, 10:47am
BRAVO to Monica Eng! This kind of investigative/advocacy journalism is genuinely inspiration. Food writing that actually helps make the world a better place: what a concept!
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