Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's not perfect, but it's something

President Obama signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act into law yesterday (Dec. 13).
It's likely too little money to dramatically change the quality of meals, but the real victory is in granting the Agriculture Secretary the right to limit what can be served in schools outside of the cafeteria. Be careful what you wish for, though. Control like that may not seem so wise if your guy isn't the one holding the regulatory power.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's like a broken record: No matter the issue, conservatives want government to do nothing

A few trillion for tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans? No problem. 6¢ more per plate for a school lunch, adding up to a modest $4.5 billion spread out over ten years? "Get the government out!! No new taxes! Hey, count the ketchup!"

Mind-bogglingly narrow talking points are getting increasingly difficult to talk around. It has no nuance, no understanding of the complexities of making policy, and absolutely no clue for how the real economy works to turn healthy food into productive and well-educated, tax paying citizens. The worst part is every discussion now has to have that answer on the right. Makes me long for William F. Buckley! Conservatives of that stripe were at least intelligent and worthy foils for liberal thinking, helping to sharpen and provide nuance to progressive movements. Now all we have is this:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Alice Waters on the Edible Schoolyard

Monday, September 20, 2010

Glen Beck is not very smart

The fear mongering of the far right is getting ridiculous. Haven't you heard? The government, rather than providing tremendous subsidies for fast food, is actually coming to take your french fries away. This is sleazy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Truly Thorny Ethical Dilemma

Every once in a while, a story comes across the wire that shows the real reason people get so worked up over school meals and the real complications that it presents for politics. This is one at a local level in England. This story is reprinted from the Australian,

School meals go halal in London

David Brown, The Australian

SCHOOL dinners for thousands of pupils in Britain will contain only halal meat from next month.

The move comes despite anger from parents who are opposed to the religious slaughter of animals

Meat from animals killed in accordance with Islamic teaching will be on the menu at high schools in Harrow, northwest London. Primary schools can express interest in the scheme when term starts next month.

The decision has drawn praise, but critics say parents were not consulted, and some have complained at the forced adoption of religious practices.

Harrow Council is believed to be the first local authority in Britain to insist on halal meat, apparently on the recommendation of dieticians. The borough is in the most religiously diverse area in Britain; just under half of the population is Christian, a fifth Hindu, 7 per cent Muslim and 6 per cent Jewish.

Pakistan Society of Harrow co-ordinator Mohammad Rizvi said: "For Muslim children the only option they have to eat is halal whereas it isn't a problem for children of other faiths to eat halal. This isn't about Islamification or pandering to Muslims, it's just common sense."

However, a leading organisation that supervises the slaughter of animals under Islamic rules disagrees.

Masood Khawaja, of the Halal Food Authority, said: "It is commendable for schools to provide halal meals but there must be an alternative for non-Muslims. Some people are opposed to halal and kosher meat on animal welfare grounds."

The halal market is estimated to be worth more than £2 billion ($3.5bn) a year in Britain, where more non-Muslims than Muslims now consume halal meat.

Halal rules require animals to be slaughtered by having their throats cut, allowing the blood to drain out, a practice condemned by the RSPCA and government veterinary experts, but exempt from animal welfare laws.

National Secular Society president Terry Sanderson said: "By only offering halal meat there is an assumption that a Muslim's conscience is more important than someone who is concerned about animal rights."

The Times

Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's about training, too

This video from the Associated Press is a good example of what needs to happen to help foodservice personnel make changes. It's not about reformulating the chicken nuggets. It's about changing the mindset, and you can't change the mindset if the only knife the staff can use is a box opener.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mrs. Q on GMA

Everyone is abuzz about Mrs. Q and her eco-stunt of eating the food the kids eat every day for a year. If you haven't checked it out, it's worth a look. The pictures alone tell a very important story. Here is Mrs. Q on Good Morning America recently.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Here is a video from the National Journal, a non-partisan reporting agency, about the current reauthorization that has passed the Senate Agriculture Committee. It's a disappointing 6¢ per meal increase. That's not enough to make any appreciable change to the quality of school meals. No fresh food. No reduction in processed food. No local food. No organic food. This will barely keep up with costs. Shameful. We can find billions and billions for military spending, but we can't find more than 6¢ for children's health and wellbeing? Shameful.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A famous example of school food reform

Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California, is a high profile school in the school food reform movements because of its school garden, the so-called Edible Schoolyard, created by chef Alice Waters. In this video, from, we see many of the other reasons that this school should be looked at for food reform.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

MasterCard parody

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A food show for school lunch products

School Cafeteria Food Show

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jamie Oliver, who has already turned school food in the UK on its head, brings his documentary prowess to the US to try the same. I'm anxious to see what happens. It also comes just before a panel that some colleagues and I are doing at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, so it should lead to some interesting discussions.

The show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, premiers March 26 at 9 ET/ 8 CT on ABC.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Packed lunches show that it's not just schools that are the problem

The media in the UK have been abuzz about school food ("school dinners") for five years now, and stories make front page news there (just as they have here in the last few weeks in the USA Today). Packed lunches, those that parents send from home, have been a big issue because the uptake of school dinners went down after Jamie Oliver's expose in 2005 and subsequent changes made junk food less available, leaving lots of kids to pack a lunch. A new study now shows that packed lunches in the UK are very far from being healthy. This video report from ITN summarizes the report: