Is Michelle Obama Really to Blame for Bad School Lunches?
|May 8, 2014||Posted by Stacy under Improving school food, Making change, School food, School lunch|
There’s a not-so-silent war being waged against Michelle Obama in response to new nutrition standards for school lunch programs. On social media, kids have been broadcasting pictures of small, unappetizing looking meals with comments like: “All we get for lunch today. Thanks, Michelle Obama.”
But is First Lady Obama really to blame for these dreadful school lunches? Yes, she’s behind the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which changed the nutrition profile of school meals, requiring more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, along with limits on portions and sodium. But ultimately, menu items and food quality are determined by individual school districts, not Mrs. Obama.
Under the new guidelines, some districts, such as Boulder, Colorado, and Provo, Utah, appear to be knocking it out of the park with fresh, delicious and creative meals. (For more great examples, check out School Meals That Rock’s Pinterest page.)
Others, however, are serving low-quality, heat-and-serve lunches that are neither inspired or tasty and likely filled with preservatives and other additives.
That isn’t to say that they don’t have their reasons. Many school districts are seriously hurting for money. Many don’t have an inspired chef at the helm or a well-trained food service staff. Many are lacking key pieces of kitchen equipment that would help them prepare fresh, wholesome school meals, according to a recent report from the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Food Project. Many feel that they have no choice but to use canned fruits and veggies or pre-cooked USDA commodities.
Is all that Michelle Obama’s fault? Of course not. In fact, she has been an incredible champion for school food reform. Obviously, there are still a lot of kinks to work out when it comes to school lunches–and none of it is going to change if we sit around playing the blame game.
So, kids–instead of just complaining, how about rolling up your sleeves and trying to figure out a way to improve the food in your school district? Schedule a meeting with your food service director, ask to join your district wellness committee, or make it your senior project. Find out your district’s obstacles to better school food–and see what you and your friends can do to help. Ask your parents and teachers to join you. Find out if you can apply for grants or raise money to help your school deliver more fresh, well-prepared cuisine.
Turn it into a grassroots effort–not a political fight. And you just may find that your wish for satisfying and delicious food is granted.
What do you think about the cafeteria meals in your school district? Have they gotten better or worse since the new USDA nutrition standards came into play? I’d love to hear! Please scroll down and leave a comment.