Monday, October 20, 2014

School Lunches Around the World, but in Video Form

I have to admit, I've never quite understood the fascination in the media about school lunches around the world.  There are slideshows of them all over the place.  Why so much attention?  What do viewers take away from such compilations?  What I tend to take away is how much more real the food is outside of the US.  So much highly processed fare!

This one is interesting in that it is in video form, so you see the components put in place.  A well produced piece.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

School Lunch Identity Politics in a Boy's Backpack Choices

Lunchtime is sometimes just the venue for many other politics playing out in the social world of the school, quite apart from the food.  Here, a young "brony" is bullied and gets blamed for it because he crossed the acceptable bounds of masculinity.

School Bully Concerns - WLOS News13 - Top Stories

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014

A refreshing perspective on controversies over throwing away lunches

I don't have any opinion on the veracity of her claims to why she was fired, but I do very much appreciate this principal's attitude toward what the lunch service is there for.  Particularly good moment when she says that it's about mindset, and that too many people look at these kids as "freeloaders" rather than kids who deserve to be fed.  It's a community problem in loads of communities, and I think she's right that we have to have conversations about how to fix this that aren't only about finances.

I know that the School Nutrition Association has been working hard on so-called "charge policies," and it's time that the USDA and Congress step up and work with them to come up with humane solutions.  Not that I want to give extreme conservatives another opportunity to call poor kids deadbeats, but hopefully the more reasonable voices will carry the day.  We adults need to solve this without involving the kids AT ALL--no hand stamps, no having to carry letters, no trays thrown away, no cheese sandwiches to punish them until the money comes in.  It's not their fault or their responsibility.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Georgia Congressman Kingston and hypocrisy

It's been a while since I posted, part of which I blame on being chair of my department these days.  But this video makes me want to post.  It makes me want to post for a lot of reasons.

First, I think this is good reporting.  Yes, it has a certain gimmicky flavor to it: "You don't like free lunches but you get them yourself!  Gotcha!"  But better than that, this report shines a light on the dealings that go on out of sight of the public for national politicians.  They spend thousands and thousands on lavish meals and get treated to lots more free.  Kingston doesn't want his constituents to know that.  It makes him look privileged, and that's quite different from what he wants to be seen as.

So what does he want to be seen as?  Well, I grew up white in the South myself, and I know race-baiting when I see it.  The coded message here is not anything to do with work ethic.  This message speaks to the resentments of middle class Southern whites who are constantly told by Republicans (and some Democrats) that their money is being taken by African Americans and Hispanics who are too lazy to work for themselves.  Never mind that the vast majority of the kids on free and reduced school meals have parents who work (and likely much harder than the Congressman).  Never mind that the middle-class white kids in the cafeteria didn't pay for their meals, either (their parents usually do).  No, we are meant to imagine a freeloading welfare queen's kid living it up on taxpayer-funded tater tots.

I personally hope that the Congressman isn't simply ignorant of the truth of the National School Lunch Program.  I think I prefer to believe he's being disingenuous, trying to curry favor with his resentful class of backers.  Surely he must know that the National School Lunch Program is named after a Senator from his own great state of Georgia, Richard B. Russell, one of the framers of the original legislation.  It was taken on by Russell and colleagues in the 1940s as a way to prop up Southern agriculture, which it still does.  Yes, that free lunch for kids is paying for the free lunches at a fair few agricultural industry corporate headquarters in Georgia.  Whenever they grow too many peanuts or pigs, rather than eating the losses in a financial sense, the surpluses gets taken off of their hands and sent to the mouths of hungry kids.

For shame, Congressman.  You're either uninformed, disingenuous, or miserly.  Rather than wrap it up in talk of trying to start a dialogue on work ethic, just get educated on why everyone took such offense at your statement.  And maybe hanging out in a school with their hungry kids would make you a better Congressman; after all, hanging out at your free swanky lunches with dignitaries and donors hasn't done the trick.


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