School Lunch

Every once in a while, I’ll be listening to our public radio station when they take a minute to read the San Francisco public schools’ lunch menu for the coming week. It doesn’t sound so terrible, really– turkey and noodles; chili; meatloaf with gravy — though it’s certainly nothing I’d want to eat, and I expect it’s not the most delicious versions of these dishes, cooked as they are for several hundred kids at a time. My concern has always been that it doesn’t sound like much my vegetarian boy could eat, but I figured when the time comes I’d just pack him a lunch.

Lately, though, I’m feeling a little more political about school lunch. It should be a good meal–healthy and delicious. But of course, that’s not so easy to produce on the scale it needs to be, and government involvement in the school lunch program has led to a bizarre situation in which, for example, ketchup counts as a vegetable. The New Yorker (9/4 issue; sorry, I can’t find it online) recently had a good piece about the history of the American school lunch program, and how federal guidelines over the years have compromised it so terribly.

Luckily, lots of people are trying to improve how we feed our children. In England, Jamie Oliver is putting his money where his mouth is. Here in the states, Alice Waters is doing her part; I’ve also just recently heard about Parents Against Junk Food (who warm my heart by including a recipe for Crazy Cake in their first newsletter; see, healthy eating can include dessert!). Let me know about other efforts you’ve heard about to improve school lunch.

One Comment

  1. Libby says:

    There was this piece in the NYTimes magazine (Aug. 20), too:

    Mariah’s school just eliminated cafeteria service and has only vending machines for lunch. I’m still mystified about the reasons for this decision. Mariah brings her own…but, as you say, not everyone can, and the options are awful! The only vegetarian option is fruit; the “lunch” options include sausage biscuit, ham biscuit, “chicken patty” on a bun–and, according to Mariah, the latter looks like the pancreas of the cat she is dissecting in anatomy class. (Don’t ask!) I’m appalled, but I have to confess I haven’t done anything about it except say I’m appalled. Sigh.