School lunch news

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Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

Last month I posted a link to a great report by journalist Lucy Komisar entitled “How the food industry eats your kid’s lunch.” Although corporate interests continue to dominate the school lunch industry, a bit of good news came along this past week.

A few days ago First Lady Michelle Obama helped unveil new school lunch standards aimed at improving child health and nutrition. As the AP reports, “The first major nutritional overhaul of school meals in more than 15 years means most offerings — including the always popular pizza — will come with less sodium, more whole grains and a wider selection of fruits and vegetables on the side.”

As the Kansas City Star notes, “The proposed rules were announced a year ago in December. Since then many schools, realizing change was coming, began preparations, working with vendors and finding new recipes…. President Barack Obama sought the changes because a third of U.S. children are overweight or obese, contributing to $3 billion in annual medical costs, according to administration. Costs will be offset in part by a reimbursement increase of 6 cents per meal — the first such increase in 30 years….” Although Congress recently bowed to industry pressure and blocked proposals to no longer count pizza as a veggie (re: the tomato sauce) and to limit servings of starchy food like potatoes (i.e., French fries), the changes are still an important step in the right direction.

To bring the story closer to home, check out two recent reports:

This great piece from Isthmus looks at the success of a farm-to-table school lunch program in Mount Horeb, which thrives in large measure due to donations of surplus produce from Vermont Valley Community Farm.

This story from Milwaukee Public Radio looks at the efforts of more urban districts to bring fresh, local produce into school cafeterias.

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