by Marion Nestle
Oct 11 2010

It’s National School Lunch Week: here’s how to feed kids better

The Center for Ecoliteracy has produced the second edition of its useful guide to redoing school meals programs, “Rethinking School Lunch.”

This is a step-by-step blueprint for how to work with schools to produce healthier school meals.  It covers:

  • The rationale for getting involved in projects like this
  • Integration of school meals into wellness policies
  • Methods for setting up the projects
  • Practical matters such as procurement, facilities, finances, and waste management
  • Staff training
  • Marketing and communications
  • Additional resources

I get asked all the time for help in changing school meal programs.  This guide is a good starting place.

  • My recommendation to get started:

    1. Pack it!

    You want change? Everyone start bringing your own lunch from home. If you boycott the lunches being served at school, maybe, just maybe, the “powers that be” will get it.

    Ken Leebow

  • Silica McMeans


    Packing a lunch is a great option for those who can afford it and who have the time; unfortunately, school lunch is an incredibly important program for low-income families who, for time and/or monetary reasons, cannot provide a child with an adequately nutritious lunch. They will never be able to “boycott” lunch because there simply is no other option for them.

  • Daniel K. Ithaca, NY

    packing a lunch would be a great plan for those who can afford it and for those who would actually send something healthier but if you take money OUT of an already cash-strapped school lunch program, a boycott or widespread movement to “pack it” will be hurting the program for the other children.

    Let’s think of ways to improve the program–so many ways
    >reducing costs
    >increasing use of local farms and distributor network
    >or… there is a special event this week, the 2010 Gala fundraiser for the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, Thursday Oct 14:

    In many ways the school lunch program PROMOTES SEPARATE, UNequal conditions, so I’m not sure how this is legal. As pointed out in a great book on the subject, Free For All, (Janet Poppendieck 1/2010; 1/2011 PB)
    I was unaware that due to de-facto discrimination, the way ‘snack bars’ are separated in many schools from the areas where students could get a “full” price, reduced price, or free lunch, those middle & high schoolers with the financial means to avoid this stigma often eat elsewhere.A much higher percentage of Latino and African-American students whether paying full/reduced or getting the free lunch are in one area for the lunch period while in many schools a much higher percentage of caucasion students purchase a la carte or snack bar items in a separate line or even in a different area of the school–or off campus.
    Ms. Poppendieck makes many great points in the book, which I wish key legislators could read.

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