Originally published October 5 2010
School Lunch Programs Begin to Change Their Menus for the Better
by Cindy Jones-Shoeman
(NaturalNews) While there is plenty of room for improvement, changes across the nation in local school lunch programs can give parents hope.
It wasn't long ago that Morgan Spurlock, in his documentary film Super Size Me, pointed out the sad state of most public school lunch programs. He found that many children weren't getting fed nutritious meals at school; and in fact, most foods served in school cafeterias came out of boxes stored in the freezer. In addition, ubiquitous candy and soda machines merely exacerbated the problem.
Fortunately, he along with many other people seem to have "stirred the pot" enough to effect change. Many people have wanted healthier options for kids at school, and the outcry is becoming harder to ignore. One of the more notable online opinions has belonged to a woman who goes by the name of "Mrs. Q," an anonymous teacher with a blog entitled Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project. She has vowed to eat the cafeteria food at her school for lunch for an entire year (January through December). She has been documenting the meals with honest commentary in spite of fear for her job or exposing her identity. She feels strongly that the general public needs to know what their children are being served every day at school. Jamie Oliver, with his television show and website, is leading a Food Revolution, in hopes of raising awareness about the sad state of school lunches.
And now, thanks to America's growing dissatisfaction with school lunches, programs are undergoing change. Congress recently passed Child Nutrition Reauthorization in August of this year, but the funds for school lunches remain almost the same. Schools must be creative and make good nutrition and healthy foods a top priority.
Fortunately, some schools seem up to the challenge. For example, children who attend certain schools in Oregon will be treated this fall to healthier meals. The school cafeterias in Woodburn will be utilizing locally-grown produce, with a heavy emphasis on vegetables and fruits that are in season. Earlier in April, one school in Colorado was also serving meals using local organic produce and grass-fed beef. Cooking from scratch was also emphasized, using fresh foods instead of overly-processed, frozen foods. And one school in Appleton, Wisconsin, has been serving healthy, fresh, low-fat, prepared-from-scratch meals for years to the benefit of its student body.
School lunches are far from perfect and many schools haven't even begun to decide how they will be implementing Child Nutrition Reauthorization, but it may give Americans hope to know that there are schools in the nation already generating change.
About the authorCindy Jones-Shoeman is the author of Last Sunset and a Feature Writer for Academic Writing at Suite101.
Some of Cindy's interests include environmental issues, vegetarian and sustainable lifestyles, music, and reading.
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