Okay, you have gotten past the first day of school. For the most part, packing your child’s lunch will be needed, but what if you want to really make a difference so that your son or daughter might be able to actually eat the school’s food? We know that all kids could benefit from better food in the lunchroom. Here are some suggestions.
Don’t believe what you read on the school lunch menu. And don’t make a judgment about the cafeteria food without checking it out. Go to the school and actually eat that food. You might find that it’s awful, but you might find that it’s really quite good. In that case, most of the suggestions below will not apply.
If the food is bad, the next step is to test the waters. Contact the food service director and see if there is any genuine interest in making improvements. If you get a brush-off, you can be sure that offering your cooperation won’t get you anywhere. You will need to gather a small group of like-minded people and use confrontation. Create a petition/web site or other resource to make use of the large number of parents who agree with you. Don’t ask for improvement – demand it!
There are multiple web sites in addition to this one, that can help. Here are some:
Be alert that some of the school lunch initiatives are actually prompted by a different agenda, such as a plant-based diet advocated by animal rights activists. A meat-free diet is likely to rely heavily on soy products, which are poorly tolerated by many. It’s much more productive to look at the real food children ate in the 1950s and use that as a guide, rather than experiment on our kids with radical changes in their diet. A change could be as modest as getting rid of the petroleum-based dyes or as ambitious as planting organic schoolyard gardens and teaching kids how to cook some basic food. Don’t look at this as an all-or-nothing deal. Start with one or two things that can be achieved. Next year you can seek additional improvements. If your list of demands gets too long, you are likely to be stuck with more years of greasy tater tots and pizza loaded with nitrates.
Is it too expensive to feed children healthy food? Want to save money? Then why not reduce the school year to just 90 days, or make school a half-day, or cut out math class, or stop educating kids after the 8th grade? If the money spent in operating public schools is considered an investment, not an expense, then schools should stop sabotaging that investment by undermining a child’s ability to learn.
Enlist other parents, children and teens in your campaign to force change on a reluctant system. Ask journalists to actually eat the food before they write about it. See if area restaurant critics will sample the school meals and write about them. Take photos of the meals and post them online (enlist the help of your teens). Send emails to area PTA leaders. Collect names on a petition and present them to the school board with your list of demands, but be sure your demands are realistic.
You can learn more information on our school lunch site at: http://feingold.org/resources/school-lunch-and-learning/