Wednesday, April 28, 2010

School Food Revolution

I know I know, two back to back blogs. I have decided to try and keep the blogs to one subject at a time so if I have more to say, new post it goes in to!

Ever since I saw the first episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution I was sickened and inspired. It was like getting hit over the head and having a fire lit under my ass all at the same time. Now I am not typically slow, ok maybe I am, anyways, my kids for awhile had been asking to have breakfast at home and take lunch to school. I am thinking to myself, say what? I used to love eating breakfast & lunch at school, what is so wrong with what they are eating? Did I ever actually look at their menu? Well, no. After that first episode I looked, I mean really looked at what they were eating and I as disgusted. I couldn't believe that chicken nuggets, french fries, corn & a brownie qualified as balanced or nutritious! Yea sure there may have been a fruit served that day (there usually is a fresh and/or canned fruit offered that the kids must take) but the main portion of their food was processed, fried and/or yellow and all sugar/carbs!

This lead me to start researching, how can we change this? Step 1 find out your districts health & fitness (or wellness) policy. Step 2 have lunch at your kids school. It took me only a week to complete these 2 items and I have to say eating lunch with my daughter was not all that it's cracked up to be. That day there was a fried chicken patty (it as mushy and um kind of gray inside, not at all appetizing) a handful of cold fries, a dab of shredded lettuce and a choice of mandarin oranges or an apple. They also had white or chocolate milk. Most of the kids of course picked chocolate milk, the second ingredient was HFCS and contains almost as much sugar as a can of soda. My daughter ate her fruit first, she loves fruit. Then she forced herself to eat a couple of fries and half of her sandwich. They have a "Duty" that watches over them and yells, forcing them to eat this and that from their plate. Let me say she scared me so much I didn't take a picture of the lunch and I made sure to choke down my meal.

This meal was disappointing but fairly typical to what they serve on a daily basis. As I was leaving one of the secretaries asked if I enjoyed lunch and I said "well, it was kind of well. . . " she picked up and said "interesting huh?" Yeah, you could say that :/

After that I started to do a lot of reading and researching. So much that I was becoming overwhelmed. Now I read many other parents who have done this started out by gathering up a group of people including farmers teachers PTA etc and then going to the school board to present their ideas. Personally I felt that was not how I wanted to go about it. I wanted to talk to the school board personally, tell them my feelings and what I have discovered and see how they feel about it from there. So I started a facebook page, continued to read and waited for the next school board meeting.

last night was that meeting, I got all fancied up and tried to put my nerves in to check. That worked right up until it was time for me to speak, my mouth went try, my body trembled like crazy and my brain went to mush. This from the person who took and excelled in her college speech course. Maybe I need to retake public speaking? Back to the issue, so I gave my spiel and was met with . . . acceptance! Yes there was a little excuse making here and there but for the most part they were happy to have someone take on this project and help bring about change. They have been implementing some changes but it's just not enough. They also gave me the go ahead to restart the garden club and utilize the garden & greenhouses. I am really excited about all of this and so pleased that I took the step to approach the school board first rather than go behind them and getting something started.

Now the real work begins. I am planning to do a screening at the school for parents & teachers showing the documentaries "Two Angry Moms" and "stepping up the plate". I hope there will be many teachers & parents that will get involved and stand beside me on this fight. I also hope our cafeteria workers are as willing to help bring about the change as well. I have been making contacts with the Farm to School program so we can get that going and shall be meeting with some Master Gardeners & an AmeriCorps member to help us get the greenhouses cleaned up and garden ready. There is so much to do even before school gets out and then on through the summer so that we can have a good system in place for the new school year. I am excited and scared to be taking on such a momentous thing and I am looking forward to the rewards as well as the challenges coming my way.


  1. That is awesome! You are such an inspiration! I am having to contend with this for the first time now that Aiden switched schools. His old school had a fabulous menu with plenty of salads, whole fruit and complex carbs. Nothing fried, nothing greasy and very little sugar. They had pizza one day a week and it was made with fresh tomatoes and whole grain dough! This new school has horrid food choices. Some days are not so bad but some are just awful. I hope next year I can step up and encourage them to make some changes!

  2. It really trips me out. Our little town has 2 school districts. The Bigger district has these ginormous menus, huge salad bar and several meal choices. The only part of their menu I disagree with is the cheeseburger/fry option offered every day. And yet our dinky little district is all over processed fried mush crap Ugh. The super told me a few yrs ago when he became the super they were at the time serving grilled cheese & burritos in plastic bags that were nuked in the microwave!

    Two of the biggest issues is that the facilities are small and the USDA recommendations are ridiculous and not geared at balanced & healthy. They are more towards the convenience commodity foods rather than real food. And then of course there is the getting the parents/teachers involved and staying involved.

    By the time you are ready to approach your district I'll have plenty of knowledge to share with you on how to get it done ;)