School Lunches Receive an F – Sign the Food Democracy Now Petition!

It seems as though the school lunch program, which has come under close scrutiny of the public in the last few years, is now starting to receive some real mainstream attention.  Those faithful to real and traditional foods should not be surprised by this, but recent news reports reveal why this topic is just now beginning to get such heated press.

This report from CBS News explains why. Apparently now school lunches are falling lower on the quality charts than even fast food restaurants. Somehow, even this headline jarred me into thinking – wow, does it really have to come to this to get people to wake up and make some effort to improve the overall state of our children’s lunch program? Just seeing what individuals like Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard project in Berkeley, CA, Chef Ann Cooper, Toni Geraci, chef and director of the food service director of the Baltimore City Public School System, and many others have done should both inspire and motivate people everywhere to get on the truck and start making changes. Our children are worth it!

Food Democracy Now – making a difference

With this failing grade comes the emergence of an important player in food activism – Dave Murphy, founder of a food advocacy group Food Democracy Now, which he runs out of his home in Clear Lake, Iowa. In the fall of 2008, this web site was created and he was able to obtain the support from important leaders in food activism circles like Wendell Berry, Bill Niman, and Alice Waters.

He’s an activist I can really admire because he accomplishes goals by starting grass-roots efforts, online petitions, and action alerts. He’s made it easy for the average person to get involved and make a difference – which is great because it’s easy to feel powerless and as though “I can’t make a difference by myself”. It’s something many of us believe in and can related to.

Murphy has resolved to take on the federal government and make changes in food where it counts – fundamental changes in policy and methods of how food is grown, to convert industrial systems over to sustainable models for raising, growing, and selling food everywhere – including school lunch programs.

His realistic approach to the movement is realistic in that he knows change won’t happen overnight. But with persistence, the effort will pay off.  He is fully aware the challenges in fighting huge, multi-billion dollar agri-business corporations who have the right connections and resources at every turn.

Success relies upon the unity of grassroots organizations and other related interests — health insurers, senior citizens and teacher lobbies. All share a common desire to regain a better state of health by education and activism by healthful eating, and have a reason to join the battle. “If you want to change the ballgame, you have to address the policies that are responsible for the system we have in place,” Murphy said. “If you change policy, the market will change.”

Remember, the importance of nutrient-dense foods for our children is critical. We’d like to see the following changes made in school lunch rooms across America:

  • real, organic, whole milk, cheese, and butter being served, with no hormones/antibiotics/pesticides/chemicals
  • grass-fed meats from pasture-raised animals and poultry
  • eggs from pasture-raised hens
  • organic fruits and vegetables
  • remove processed grain products and replace with whole, sprouted and soaked grains
  • remove processed, industrial foods containing chemicals, pesticides, and genetically-modified ingredients

Get involved! Sign the petition and make a difference!

Please sign this important petition from CREDO and Food Democracy Now page to let Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture know that you support his willingness to investigate this matter and bring an end to processed, industrial foods being served to our nation’s children.

Watch this excerpt from ‘Two Angry Moms‘ where Baltimore’s Toni Geraci talks about how he’s changed the face of school lunches in his district. So inspiring!

Your voice really can make a difference in the way children eat lunch. Join celebrities and others who are fighting for our children’s future. Do you have any stories to share about changes you’ve made or witnessed in your own school district?

This article is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit this site and read the other real food posts listed there.

3 Comments

  • Alicia lopez
    December 16, 2009 - 2:53 AM | Permalink

    Very alarming! I called my own school district and asked the head nutritionist if there were plans to remove trans fat and high fructose corn syrup and start adding locally sourced and organic foods. She told me that they do not use products with high fructose corn syrup, the next day I had lunch with my son and checked the flavored milks (only thing with a nutritional/ingredient label) both were clearly marked with HFCS as an ingredient. She doesn’t know what they are serving our kids!? In any case I fortunate enough to be able to afford to feed my children well at home and to pack lunches, but what about the kids who’s only meal of the day is school lunch? We can do so much better than this! It is absolutely shameful.

  • December 16, 2009 - 5:24 AM | Permalink

    Alicia – the story you tell is unfortunately very similar in so many other districts – just like the one my son used to attend. And yes, it’s one thing if you can provide for your own child and feed him or her well, but what about kids who don’t get well provided for? It’s very sad to think our kids are growing up in a world that values real nutrition as such a low priority. Where do you live?

    We are home schooling this year (and using a publicly funded program), but my son was in the public system for two years. The first year he attended half time, but ate lunch at school. The second year he attended full-time during his second grade year. Both years I packed a lunch for him and hand delivered it to his school each day (we live just a block away from the school). I was appalled at what was being served, both at the obvious and not-so-obvious items and ingredients.

    I served on a panel of parents for nearly a year where we met with the school board on a regular basis, including with the head dietitian. These individuals were completely clueless about all the items they were serving and how unhealthy they were. We even had a PowerPoint presentation where we examined, meal by meal, horrible, toxic ingredients and called out what they were and the damage they incur to human health. We also brought the film “Two Angry Moms” to our city, which was very poorly attended (only 60 people), and still the district barely responded.

    One comment the head dietitian made when she stood up after the film was, “I’m so glad we’re one of the good guys!” I know many parents in the audience besides me were absolutely horrified. Then the superintendent ended our film event by stating to the entire audience that the Boise School District would continue to serve nutritious foods to the children of Boise. They simply don’t understand about nutrient-dense foods versus processed, industrial foods that are toxic-laden and then fortified back in with synthetic nutrients the human body doesn’t recognize and can’t assimilate.

    Our society is so accustomed to eating, buying, and serving convenient, processed, nutritionally-bankrupt foods, we collectively don’t grasp the importance of the real nutrition we are missing from our diets. That’s why we have juvenile onset Diabetes, cholesterol medication for children, obesity rates that are skyrocketing, ADD, ADHD, high rates of irritability, autism, inability to focus & pay attention, depression, and other mood disorders. It seems so obvious, but a lot of people just don’t get it. My son’s behavior deteriorates a great deal when he doesn’t eat well, and he gets canker sores and colds and flus easier when his diet goes downhill. If he maintains a good diet, he’s usually okay. The main problems happen when he goes over to friend’s houses or his grandparents. Because most people we know still adhere to the Standard American Diet. It’s funny, many people believe they are eating healthy, when in fact, the opposite is true. But that’s why we must keep on keeping on, with education, activism, and awareness. Thanks for your post.

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