Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What's On the Menu? - Food in Schools

This post was inspired by a post on Garr Reynold's Blog Presentation Zen .

I am amazed by the food that we give to students in school cafeterias. Most of the food is processed and preserved and is then thawed and heated before being served to our students.This is alarming because cognitive functioning is increased with proper nutrition. Also, proper nutrition can give our students the energy they need to complete the complex tasks that we demand of them throughout the school day.

This leads me to a comparison between the fast food industry and school cafeterias. Much of the processes and preparation techniques that take place in the fast food industry, also happens in schools. The reason for this is the convenience and speed of these methods that allow for mass production of food. This may not seem like a big deal. However, if we continue to feed our children processed foods that are loaded with hormones, pesticides, and preservatives, the results will be devastating to their health.

The percentage of overweight children in the United States is already growing at an alarming rate. One out of three children in the US are considered overweight or obese. If we continue to feed them high caloric and food that is not nutritionally dense, our students will continue to become overweight and have illnesses, such as diabetes, that are related to increased weight.

On Presentation Zen Reynolds posted a talk by Mark Bittmen. In this talk Bittmen discusses what is wrong with the way many of us eat. This is a great talk. I really enjoyed when he discusses the history of how we eat.

I also ran across talk by Ann Cooper, the head of nutrition for Berkeley, California, schools and author of Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children. She serves organic, regionally sourced and sustainable meals to students in California. This is an EXCELLENT talk that displays Cooper's passion toward sustainable food to kids. She also has a website,, that has recipes, links, and resources for food activism. If you click on only one link from this blog entry, this talk is the one to see. It is packed with 19 minutes of great information.

If you are excited by Cooper's enthusiasm for healthier school lunches you may also choose to follow her on Twitter.

This link will take you to the trailer for an upcoming movie called FOOD, Inc. This movie discusses the methods used in current food production and how we as consumers can help. This movie is only showing in a select number of theaters, so please check to see if it is showing near you. I think you will find the information in this trailer interesting and related to the topic at hand.

The FOOD Inc, website is filled with resources that you will find useful. A section of the website has information on 10 simple things that you can do to change our food system. Garr Reynolds created a visualizing appealing slide show of these 10 simple things that can be used as a springboard for discussion on the topic.

Under the Take Action section of FOOD, Inc's site, YOU can take action by signing a petition to help ensure that the re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act. This act will help assure that healthy food choices are in place in our schools.

There is also an interactive portion of the site that will help you learn about health choices for school lunches.
Hopefully the release of the movie FOOD Inc, although it is a limited release, will spark conversations about what are feeding our students. Our students' health is at risk and as adults it is up to us to ensure that they are receiving proper nutrition.

If you interested in this topic you may also want to see the movies Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me.

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