Wednesday, February 24, 2010

food with a lower-case "f"!

Though most of us call it, "processed food" in this case Mrs. Q.'s going to show us it's, "school food".

Who's Mrs. Q.?

She's an anonymous teacher, at an anonymous school, in an anonymous State, who's taken it upon herself to eat school lunch, "just like the kids", every day in 2010.

She's also blogging about her experience.

Her blog, Fed Up: School Lunch Project describes what we're feeding our children and while her school's in the States, there's no reason to believe things are any better here in Canada.

What really blows me away - and I'm not talking about the obvious how can we serve kids the stuff we teach them is bad for us? What really blows me away is the fact that people make arguments about why it is we can't possibly change what the kids are eating because it'd be too difficult and/or too expensive.

Really? You want to save money on the backs of our children's health? We shouldn't try because it'd be challenging?

Great lessons for our kids there.

Oh, and for the Canadian readers, too expensive? Can't just look at school bottom lines as we live in a country with socialized medicine where the effects of poor diets indeed hit the country's bottom lines (and bottoms).

Too expensive to reform school food in Canada? I'd argue we can't afford not to.

In case you're wondering what good school food looks like, Mrs. Q. provided a link to Madison Wisconsin's REAP Program. Have a peek and see what can be done.

Just because something's tough to do, doesn't mean we shouldn't figure out a way to do it.

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  1. Thanks so much for an interesting series! The timing is perfect, as we work in our school to begin a snack/lunch program.

    A friend posted this recently:,8599,1967060,00.html?xid=rss-world

    ...and all I could think about was how miserable the lunchtime currently is at my daughter's school. She's in SK, but I fear for next year and that's why I want to improve the system. They eat at fold-out tables in the gym. It's chaotic. It's more about socializing than eating, and most kids just want to eat a bit than play as much as possible. The kids who bring/are made to bring healthy lunches are practically punished for doing so by having to watch others eat the junk they've been allowed or have purchased, especially those with off-grounds privileges. After all - who is hungry for lunch at 11:30 am?

    I'll be following your links and reading eagerly - and forwarding it to the parent council too.

  2. Anonymous10:13 am

    What proportion of Canadian schools:

    a)provide free lunches or other meals

    b)have cafeterias that sell meals to students

    c)provide space for kids who bring food from home to school

    d)don't have enough space for all the kids to eat lunch in the school at lunchtime
    (my kids' high school - not allowed to eat in classrooms, all students are scheduled for lunch at the same time but the lunchroom isn't big enough for everybody at once - this school was built 2 years ago!! - kids go to fast food places nearby)

    e)are in small enough neighborhoods to allow kids to walk home for lunch

    Canadian schools differ from each other, much less from American schools. A program for a school that has a cafeteria that serves meals to students may not be the reality for most Canadian schools, and perhaps it shouldn't be. Government programs and education systems are very different in US and Canada.

    Any program to improve school kids food should start with understanding what is already in place here and now in the wide variety of Canadian schools. We can learn from the American experience, but we need to know how our circumstances are different.

  3. Anonymous2:33 pm

    Hi Dr :o)
    In the same spirit of food regulation…
    I do not know if you've had the opportunity to see this morning the magnificent new comment of Mario Nestle and David S. Ludwig :) I'm not sure if all of these arguments can be adapted to Canadian laws, but really, nice work done by these authors.

    Front-of-Package Food Labels: Public Health or Propaganda?
    Marion Nestle; David S. Ludwig
    JAMA. 2010; 303:771-772.

    Sorry... I think the link does not work
    Nathalie D

  4. Thanks Nathalie,

    Indeed I did!

    I'm linking to the PDF of the article in my Saturday Stories section.


  5. Anonymous12:54 pm

    I don't have children, so my comments may sound outdated, but whatever happened to children going home for lunch or having their lunch packed daily by parents?? I would NEVER let a child eat that crap they seem to be serving at school. That's disgusting.

  6. It should be a huge concern--the biggest health threat currently being obesity in the States, we're not playing with unimportant issues here. Children need to be taught good eating habits from the beginning, but I think more importantly, they need to know how good it feels to have your body running on high quality fuel, rather than the lowest grade. It's amazing to me that we have news articles about what's being fed to the cattle we eat--let's focus on what's being fed to the children we raise first!