One of the many tendrils of the local food movement is school food--it's one that never really caught my eye--maybe it was because I'm not a teacher or a parent--but last night, a panel of thoughtful speakers and at the latest installment of Kitchen Table Talks brought the issue home. School food is a community issue.
I realized that school food is suffering from the same problems facing our national food system: the commodification of the food that nourishes us and the conglomeration of those who produce, prepare and distribute our food.
Two points of the talk resonated with me: In San Francisco, the meals that kids receive at school--lunch and for some, breakfast plus an after-school snack, usually served in a black pre-packaged bag--may be the only meals they have all day. And secondly, kids who eat healthy, good food do better academically. When our school systems begin to recognize this fundamental need to nourish students, real transformation can happen.
The speakers, which included Colleen Kavanaugh Executive Director, Campaign for Better Nutrition, Lena Brook, grassroots parent advocate, and Ed Wilkins, Director of Student Nutrition Services for SF Public Schools--reiterated that the time is now to change the way we feed children at school. The Child Nutrition Act is undergoing reauthorization this year. For the first time in decades, a President is actually talking about the need for school food reform. The local food movement is gaining political will and know-how. And communities are beginning to organize around healthy food.
What can you do?
- Attend one of the 272 Time for Lunch Eat-In's across the nation on Labor Day (or organize one in your community). It is a national day of action to get real food in schools
- Call your representatives and let them know you want more $$ for school food. Call them, don't send a letter or sign a petition. All that counts is a personal call or note. For more info on what to say check out this guide.
- Get educated about school food and make it a priority in your community.