Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Universities are having to address hunger, too

It's key to remember that colleges and universities are filled with students who are "food insecure," meaning that they don't have a stable source of food and sometimes don't actually have meals to eat. There are a number of universities that are finding ways to do something about this. My previous university, the University of North Dakota is one. This video shows what my current university, Virginia Tech, is doing to help students, and it shows well what it means to the students who use the services.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

World Food Programme wins the Nobel Peace Prize

Congratulations to the World Food Programme on its winning the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020. It is a deserving organization, one that has made its way into many conflict areas all over the world that many others could not gain access to. A key part of the organization is its work in school feeding. It does amazing work to set up programs that are not just handout events, but they work to put infrastructures in place for nations and localities to take over school feeding themselves, creating stable food systems for both children and, often, their families as well. It's a wonderful reminder, in this time of pandemic, that peace and human rights are a major aim of feeding kids in schools. For more info on the WFP's school feeding mission, see https://www.wfp.org/school-meals.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Video of a House "Debate" in 2010 on supporting the National School Lunch Program

Seems quaint nowadays to have elected officials on BOTH sides of the aisle supporting the important progressive (though limited) changes that took place in 2010.  Worth it to remember this moment, though.  Some of the 13 representatives (all Republicans) that voted against “Expressing the support of the House of Representatives for the goals and ideals of the National School Lunch Program” may still be in the House, and I would encourage you to contact them if you live in their district, and encourage them to begin supporting these important ideals.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

This guy wants to give Texas schools the "freedom and liberty" to ignore nutrition science and obesity

"This guy" is the Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Miller, a Tea Party Conservative and staunch advocate of "freedom" and "liberty."  He wants Texas schools to be able to choose whether or not they want to allow deep fat fryers back into schools.  And he wants restrictions on sodas removed.  And he wants to double the number of days that schools are allowed to sell junk food for school fundraisers.  

He believes that it is a local jurisdiction's prerogative to decide what is healthy or not.  Because of course the functioning of the human body varies from locality to locality, right?  Why should we listen to nutrition science, when all we really need to know about health can be found in the treatises of Hayek and the party platforms of the Tea Party?  Of course, most schools don't give students the "freedom" and "liberty" to not go to school, nor is there generally other options for food, but really, why should we be concerned about making all the kids of Texas a captive audience for Mr. Miller's fried fare?

Perhaps the one consolation one can take is that this is really more political stunt than serious policy proposal.  Because of the federal regulations on school food, there's little chance that such proposals would produce reimbursable meals.  Most sensible adult Americans don't think that fried food and sodas are good for kids, even though they eat such things themselves (as do I).  But school food is different; it's a teaching tool, too.  And, on the financial side, even the Tea Party wouldn't want to do without the many millions of dollars that subsidize actually healthy school meals.  But it got Mr. Miller in the news.  And here I am to helping to spread the word about how principled he's trying to be.  You're welcome, Sid.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

More context on the "school lunches around the world" phenomenon

Both The Lunch Tray and Mother Jones (who quotes extensively from Siegel's blog on The Lunch Tray), give a compelling argument for why we need to be cautious about taking at face value the stories and web galleries that purport to show how fantastic other countries' school lunches are compared to those in the US.  I've been guilty of spreading these images, too, but as I have said, I don't really get the fascination.  Perhaps there's some notion that other countries haven't succumbed to processed food, that elsewhere they are holding onto their slow-produced, scratch-cooked meals featuring all sorts of real, organic food.  The two stories I referred to in the first sentence above remind us that this wishful thinking just isn't true.

In my travels looking at school food in Anglophone countries--England, Australia, and South Africa, there's certainly a lot of interest in getting kids better food.  But in all those places they struggle with the same Western diet we do.  Pizza in English cafeterias, even after all of Jamie Oliver's struggles.  Candy in Australian canteens and loads of hungry kids who get no subsidized lunch.  Variations of corn mush in township schools in South Africa.  In the private schools there they eat better, but still lots of access to junk.  That said, I've seen better versions of school food, too.

It's a good reminder that school food is complicated and suffers through local, national, and even transnational politics before it takes the form it does on the plate.  Picture galleries aside, the US has much to be proud of, and it has much to learn, as well.

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.