Help Schools Serve Real Food

The Time for Lunch Campaign plans to send thousands of letters to congress calling for big changes to the upcoming Child Nutrition Act. Slow Food USA is launching this campaign in an effort to do their part in ending child obesity and diabetes. Don’t you think you owe it to your children and their friends to help them out? It takes only a few seconds to fill in your information and the Slow Food USA folks send the letters out for you. Done, and you can say you did your part in helping out. Want to do more? They have those opportunities too.

Slow Food USA and its 90,000 members and advocates are rallying the public to tell Congress to get serious about ending child obesity. “President Obama’s proposal to add $1 billion per year to the Child Nutrition Act is an important step forward,” stated Josh Viertel, president, Slow Food USA. “But, it’s not enough to give America’s kids a healthy future, especially when nearly one third of our children are overweight or obese and when Congress spends at least $13 billion per year subsidizing the production of unhealthy processed foods. The public needs to speak up and tell Congress to make real improvements to school lunch.”

Right now, Congress gives schools $2.68 for each lunch served, of which only about $1 goes towards the actual ingredients. One Dollar! Are you kidding me? No wonder food is processed and poor quality. In his proposal, President Obama would like to add $1 billion per year to the Child Nutrition Act, but the money will need to be split up between many critical programs. At most, schools would receive an additional 20 cents per meal. This is not enough to guarantee serving a healthy lunch with fruits, veggies and whole grains. School nutrition directors and advocates agree that that would cost at least $1.00 more per lunch to accomplish. “The math speaks for itself,” continued Viertel. “Obesity and diabetes costs our nation $263 billion per year. And school lunch is so under-funded that most schools can only afford to serve the cheap processed foods that fuel obesity and diabetes. Investing at least $1 billion in child nutrition programs is the smart thing to do. Otherwise, we’re continuing to put our kids, our economy, our health care system and our quality of life at risk.”

The math speaks for itself is an understatement. So our government spends $263 billion per year on treating the results of a poor diet and only $1 billion to try to prevent the disease resulting from a poor diet. Our government subsidizes the processed food industry with $13 billion per year and only $1 billion to help our children live a healthy life. With 1/3 of your child’s daily nutrition being eaten off a tray or out of a bag, shouldn’t you expect more?

The Time for Lunch campaign web site ( makes it quick and easy for anyone to send emails to their legislators. Slow Food USA has set a goal of sending 100,000 emails to Congress. Go there NOW and do your part!

Beth Ann Bentley is the publisher of, a nutrition educator and the mother of four school-aged children.

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Comment by Elizabeth Scharf on March 24, 2010 at 11:48am
sure. I am out of town for a few days but can get back to you.
Comment by Beth Ann Bentley on March 21, 2010 at 8:37pm
Elizabeth, congrats to you for your great effort and example. Thanks for the post. I would love to hear more about your story and even post it on my own site. Would you be willing to write a bit about it? Please let me know.

Comment by Elizabeth Scharf on March 21, 2010 at 4:32pm
I work as a school cook in a rural VT school. We have been working to improve our lunches for the last few years, using local foods when possible (we have a contract with a local beef producer), local vegetables, fruits. We use whole grains in our baked goods and pastas/rice dishes---all of it takes time and we are far ahead of the "normal" school lunches. We also don't have a huge deficit, even though we are serving higher quality home cooked food. I must also say that govt commodities have been better this year than in past years--whole wheat pasta, frozen blueberries from Maine, good quality pork, great frozen corn, whole wheat tortillas, etc. Would be nice to have brown rice, but for now it's white....we do alot of taste tests for kids so that they are familiar with a recipe before it goes on the lunch menu---we are very successful with our program and there are others like ours out there---making it happen on a larger scale is more challenging, but I think it's possible to make significant changes nationwide. It takes dedicated parents, staff members (I got my job because as a parent I pursued the local foods movement/healthy lunch initiatives)-
Comment by Beth Ann Bentley on March 18, 2010 at 1:55pm
I am looking forward to Jamie Oliver's show too. I wish I could be on it.
Comment by Donna DiCorcia-Davis on March 18, 2010 at 1:48pm
I will give a shout out on my blog about! I sent the emails to my representatives!
Comment by Donna DiCorcia-Davis on March 18, 2010 at 1:43pm
Jamie Oliver fixed this problem in England. Now England of course is a lot smaller but still you think this country would get a grip on this especially with childhood obesity. They say the biggest tool used in a school cafeteria is a can opener. No other utensil is used! That is a sad thought. I am interested in the new show Jamie Oliver is brining to America. It is about changing school lunches. Hopefully he will be successful in America as in Great Britain!




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