Food culture in America is changing. In the book Lunch Wars, author Amy Kalafa describes her concern that her children were exposed to unhealthful school food. She investigated and then approached the superintendent of schools to share her findings.
His response? “It was not the school district’s responsibility to feed the kids, just to educate them.” Citizens across the nation are speaking up with challenges to this statement.
In Detroit, executive director of food services Betti Wiggins knows the impact real food has on the 55,000 mouths she feeds. She says, “A nutrient-dense school meal helps to establish lifelong eating patterns that contribute to better health as adults.”
Betti knows kids are learning even in the cafeteria. While change to real and local food takes time to accept at all levels, the benefits are far too great to ignore: “But the truth is… a child can’t learn if he or she is hungry. I help, so that they can enter the classroom ready to learn.” Eating enters the learning environment both in and out of the classroom.
Here in Nebraska, school districts are not shy about embracing the real food philosophy. Litchfield Public Schools will be participating in a prospective greenhouse being built downtown. Food service director Janice Reynolds is exploring possibilities of buying food from area growers.
School nurse Dawn Heapy believes that farm to school will help them focus on the nutritional aspect of raising healthy children, using fresh fruits and vegetables rather than processed, and the community will be strengthened.
So, is it possible that Alice Waters, one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, has it right when she says the fate of our nation rests on school lunches?
Once lunch is embraced as the learning environment it truly is, kids can fulfill their hunger with real food that nourishes both their brains and their bodies. A colorful plate of simple and wholesome foods can become commonplace.
School leaders nationwide are leading the charge. Sarah Remm, principal of Winside Public School PK-6 knows that by embracing farm to school, they are providing students with the opportunity to expand their knowledge of foods and how it relates to their overall well-being.
Students are learning, regardless of the environment. Hopefully adults across the nation will share the lead and keep on learning too.
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