Saturday, April 01, 2006

French fries be gone! A revolution in school food?

When the CDC stated if we don't change the way we feed our children, kids born today may be the first in the cuontry to die at a younger age than their parents, many people woke up to our food crisis. Woke up, yes, but most of the food we feed to our kids is still high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar time bombs. And while the CDC makes pronouncements like these, the USDA--the agency responsible for school food--continues to feed American kids junk food. (Come to think of it, why doesn't the CDC or the HHS run school food? The USDA's real mandate is finding a market for US ag products... and those kids are a pretty captive market).

But a movement across the country is working to change that. I spent today with four hundred of them. Their radical proposition? Offer food that makes kids well, instead of makes them sick. As Ann Cooper, head of school food in Berkeley, California, pointed out in a rousing talk that made me wake up from an otherwise bleary-eyed 9am blur: We spend billions on treateing obesity-related illnesses, at the same time we waste billions on feeding kids the very food that will make them overweight.

Most inspiring moment: When Dr. Roberta Sonnino from Rome said that 68% of all schools in Italy serve some organic foods and that they have a federal mandate (Finance Law 488) that explicity encourages public institutions like schools and hospitals to serve organic foods. Imagine that!

Best food moment: Eating lunch. It was delicious and prepared by the school food department in New York City.

Favorite quote of the day: "There are risks and costs to any program of action," said JFK. "But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."

Working with kids? Have kids in school? Just plain care about what kids eat? Visit the Baum Forum's resource guide online to get involved in the school food revolution. --Anna