Sunday, June 06, 2010

School Lunches, Part III

In an effort to combat childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama is promoting her Let's Move! campaign, part of which focuses on teaching children about proper nutrition and healthy eating.

Sadly, many children do not get healthy food, or are allowed to choose non-nutritious food, when they eat at school every day.  Faithful Reader, you have already read about that problem in Part I and Part II.  Well, First Lady Obama is using her position to address that issue, too, with her Chefs Move to Schools program.  It encourages trained chefs to "adopt" their local schools and teach students, teachers, food service workers, even parents and community members about healthy and delicious food, proper nutrition, and cooking techniques in a positive, engaging manner.

A challenge in schools is the low amount of funding that they have for their food programs.  Schools must keep costs down, and one way to do that is to hire as few food service workers as possible.  Reheat-and-serve foods don't require a lot of labor, so they are common in school cafeterias.  They may have lengthy ingredient lists filled with unrecognizable names for preservatives and fillers; but so long as they meet the federal government's sometimes illogical nutritional standards, they are acceptable to serve to students.

And many children have grown up so used to fast-food restaurants and processed foods from the grocery store that they turn their nose at their schools' attempts to offer fresh food, choosing pizza slices and French fries in lieu of steamed vegetables, a salad bar, or a piece of fruit.  Rather than teach kids to eat properly and offering only healthy foods, many schools have caved and instead serve the stuff that they think kids will eat.  That only contributes to a culture of poor eating habits, which, when combined with an overall sedentary lifestyle, explains the shockingly high rate of childhood obesity in our country.

Read about what some chefs on the East Coast and the West Coast are doing to excite kids about eating healthy food . . . in part by teaching them how to grow it and prepare it themselves!

1 comment:

  1. I would love it if a chef would come and adopt our school lunch program! I would have to start eating at school instead of bringing my lunch.