Monday, 15 October 2007

Lunch Lessons: Improving the quality of school lunches

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Though my older daughter isn't yet old enough to eat lunch at school, I still get the menu each Friday in her backpack: hot dogs (served daily), pizza, chicken pot pie, nachos, all often served with french fries. Rinse, lather, repeat each week. Needless to say, there isn't a lot there to celebrate, even though it is National School Lunch Week. I'm disappointed to see a menu that has changed little since when I was in school, despite everything we now know about nutrition.

Then I came across Chef Ann and her Lunch Lessons site. Chef Ann is working hard to change the way we think about school lunches, including outdated school budgets and our dependency on commodity-based foods. She's an amazing breath of fresh air. Check out her blog and her "meal wheel" for helping parents and kids choose healthy foods. Not coincidentally, I'm sure, she's also celebrating her third annual National School Food Challenge where she asks parents, kids, and advocates to challenge their school systems to improve the nutritional level of their school lunches. It's important to add that Chef Ann focuses on finding local, sustainable sources for school meals.

It's easy to say, "Oh, I'll just pack my children's lunches." (I'll admit it, it's what I thought when I saw our school's lunch menu.) But while that solves the problem for my own family, it does little to address the bigger picture. Chef Ann can help concerned parents approach their schools for a healthier future.

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