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School Lunch Sampler Platter

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Mar 10, 2009 at 13:51:44 PM PDT

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Lots is doing on school lunches. Here's what I've got (and more to come!):

Local Food in Schools

Jill Richardson :: School Lunch Sampler Platter
The Child Nutrition Reauth

Food Safety


Childhood Obesity

Other Stories

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Wow... (4.00 / 1)
Are you trying to keep me in front of the computer all day, Jill?


A couple things - The Albuquerque story (feeding kids cheese sandwiches in lieu of real food when their parents fall behind on lunch bills) is happening everywhere these days, and fortunately local districts usually cave on this stupid policy as soon as the Letters to the Editor begin rolling in.  Here's the relevant section from that article -

Second-grader Danessa Vigil said she will never eat sliced cheese again. She had to eat cheese sandwiches because her mother couldn't afford to give her lunch money while her application for free lunch was being processed.

"Every time I eat it, it makes me feel like I want to throw up," the 7-year-old said.

Her mother, Darlene Vigil, said there are days she can't spare lunch money for her two daughters.

"Some parents don't have even $1 sometimes," the 27-year-old single mother said. "If they do, it's for something else, like milk at home. There are some families that just don't have it and that's the reason they're not paying."

In these times, people are losing jobs left-and-right; and just because a family didn't qualify for free lunches in September doesn't mean their financial situation is the same in January or March.  It's wrong to single out children and humiliate them in front of their peers.  IMO, decision-makers in the school districts who do this are less than human, and deserve to feel the sting and pain of unemployment themselves.  And then maybe somebody in their district will humiliate their children at school shortly thereafter...

I QUITE agree (4.00 / 1)
did you see the NYT (I think) article ages ago that Noweasels wrote about on dKos? It was about kids who were eligible for free or subsidized lunches but they were so embarrassed to take them that they went hungry instead.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Oh yeah... (4.00 / 1)
I don't remember that one specifically, but I know noweasels, I and others discussed this a few times during our Empty Bowls fundraiser over at dKos last month.

I saw that myself - I never qualified for free lunch, but those who did had to use these tokens that totally stood out.  I obviously wasn't that aware of these issues back then, but I'd love to know how many kids in my school(s) went without lunch because they didn't want to be embarrassed by using those tokens?

I've heard suggestions that cash should be eliminated from all school cafeterias everywhere, and all kids should have tickets or vouchers or something that are indistinguishable from the rest, no matter whether parents are paying or if the students are receiving reduced or free lunches.  But I guess that makes too much sense, eh?

[ Parent ]
I thought there were already solutions in place (4.00 / 2)
so you didn't know who got the free meals etc?

[ Parent ]
I've heard some ideas... (4.00 / 1)
And I believe they've been implemented in some places already, but I'm not sure it's happened everywhere?

Has it?

I honestly don't know any more.  I can say for sure it certainly wasn't the case even up until a few years ago...

[ Parent ]
Okay, more! :) (4.00 / 1)
I was only allowed to leave school for lunch during one of my high school years - that was the year I spent in Arizona.  My three high school years back in New Jersey were closer to baseball-bat carrying principals and locked doors.  Heh...

Ah, but anyways - the year I was allowed to leave I didn't, because I was a freshman brand new to the area, no car obviously, and our school was brand new and built on former farmland a few miles outside of the Phoenix-area town I lived in for those 9 months.  

But the school 'solved' that problem for those of us who didn't leave campus - we had fast 'food' in the cafeteria.  And yeah, I'll admit I ate the shit more than I should have.  Two vendors - Taco John's and Pizza Hut I believe, but my memory might be off on one of them.  We also had a third line there for cafeteria food, which was basically just reheated hamburgers and fries (probably sourced through another chain now that I think of it, but they weren't branded).  They also had a soda fountain with Coca Cola brands.  This was 1993-94...

So anyways, on to my years in Jersey high schools - we never had soda vending machines in my schools (did have 'Veryfine' juice machines, though), and the food, while certainly nowhere near great, was at least somewhat more 'balanced' with actual vegetables served along with the usual suspects (chicken nuggets, "pizza", "cheesesteaks", etc...).

I wonder if we could find back statistics on how certain states' school lunch programs compared at certain points in time?  I suspect New Jersey was probably one of the better ones, at least during the early and mid-90's...

And more! (4.00 / 1)
Yes, this is a major focus of mine, in case that wasn't ridiculously obvious...


What is the point of 'open campus' lunch periods, after all?

I honestly don't understand them, but maybe that's just got to do with my own experiences?  Are kids really more likely to go home for a healthy lunch, or drop a few dollars on a burger, fries and a soda at one of the many fast 'food' outlets that circle public schools like fucking vultures?

There's a high school near me here in Inner SE Portland.  It's along a sketchy stretch of a major city thoroughfare largely populated by loan sharks "check-cashing / payday lenders", strip clubs, bars and semi-abandoned light-industrial buildings.  The thing that stands out along this particular stretch though, is a curious lack of fast 'food' establishments most of the way.  But there are three.  A McDonald's, a Wendy's and a Burgerville (local PNW chain that is somewhat decent on sourcing issues, but it's still fast food)...

And guess where they all are?  Yup, all within a few blocks of the high school - and the Burgerville is literally 30 feet across the street.  And the high school is, of course, much older than the 3 fast food establishments.  Why did they choose to set up there, rather than a few blocks down amidst the cluster of light-industrial?  Might it be that their strategy is to market to, and hook kids on, their worthless nutritionally deficient shit?

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