3 Great Resources for Parents Wanting to Improve School Food
|June 4, 2012||Posted by Stacy under Improving school food|
Before starting the process of lobbying for more nutritious fare at my kindergartner’s school, I approached a couple mothers of older students (5th and 6th graders) with the idea. I knew that both women were interested in healthy eating and concerned about the overload of junk food in the world at large. That’s why I was surprised at their reaction: They both shook their heads and said, “Forget it!” Nothing can be done. The school will never change. Instead, they suggested focusing on what I can do to instill healthy eating habits at home.
Normally, I might have taken their advice–after all, they have more experience than I do. Their kids have been in the school system for years! But I just wasn’t ready to give up that easily. OK, to be totally honest: Their responses pissed me off and made me want to fight even harder. And I hope that I can convince you to join the fight, too. Because as I’ve since learned, parent advocates across the nation are having a positive impact on the food being served up at their children’s schools. But you really need to be careful about how you approach it.
That’s where the following resources come in. They explain what you need to know to launch a successful campaign for healthier school food. So before marching into your principal’s office or sending out an irate email about banning cupcakes to your P.T.A. president, be sure to read up:
Rudd ‘Roots Parents: Created by the esteemed Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, this site was created specifically for parent advocates. It provides information that you’ll need to become a “school food expert,” including how the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program work. If you’re hoping to take on cafeteria food, knowing the regulations is a must! Rudd ‘Roots Parents also covers how to gain support from others within the school community and offers a long list of resources to help you on your journey.
Everybody’s Guide to Fixing School Food: This very insightful 5-page report was written by Dana Woldow of PEACHSF, who has been working to improve school food in San Francisco since 2002. She outlines 4 important steps for success–Getting Educated, Getting Organized, Getting Active and Getting Coverage. Contained within is priceless advice based on her own experience, such as: take baby steps; what works in one school district might not work in another; and refuse to give up, no matter what. A parent herself, Dana is an veteran in the school food reform world. Simply put, she knows her stuff.
Free for All: Fixing School Food in America: This 2010 book by sociology professor Janet Poppendieck is a must-read for anyone serious about changing school food. Poppendieck discusses various obstacles in providing fresh, nutritious school lunches, from school budgets to the commercialization of childhood. She spent a week in a high school kitchen as part of her meticulous research. How did school food get so broken–and where do we go from here? This book covers it all. Aside from being informative, I actually found the book surprisingly readable–not the dry tome that one might expect from a sociology prof.
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