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A Food Revolution in School Lunches

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Kari McLennan

Has anyone been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? I have and I have to say that Jamie is truly inspiring. He's got so much passion and drive. I wish I had a pinky's worth of his. If you're not familiar with Jamie, he has a long career that I believe started with his simple cooking show The Naked Chef. Since then he's revolutionized the British school lunch program and is now on to America's unhealthiest city to continue the revolution.

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So just what is so bad about school lunches? Well, this is certainly not a new topic for The Green Mama, but it's important because kids are the future and habits are created when we're young. This is the first generation that is not expected to live longer than their parents due mostly to obesity. One in three Illinois children is overweight or obese and according to the Community Food Security Commission, 1 in 3 children will develop type 2 diabetes. It's heartbreaking.

It's not hard to see see the connection to food and health when you look at the food kids eat at school. It's all shades of brown - fried, processed, starchy, and lacking nutrition. One wake-up call moment was in Jamie's first episode when he held up tomatoes and asked a class of 6 year olds what they were. After some thought, one boy replied "potatoes?" Another shocker moment was when Jamie discovered that French fries (which appeared to be offered every day in the high school) count as a vegetable.

Thankfully, we're making some progress. There is a Senate bill in progress that would provide more funding to the schools.

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In Chicago, new guidelines call for no desert or candy type ingredients or flavors, and no more than 5 grams of sugar in breakfast cereals unless they have 3 or more grams of fiber. This means no more doughnuts and Pop Tarts for breakfast. (Wow, it's hard to believe kids were getting doughnuts.) The new guidelines also mean cutting back the daily nacho service to once a week.

Also, local non-profit Healthy Schools Campaign is working hard to advocate for environmental health and wellness. Get involved and help them achieve their goals.

More on this topic: How safe is your kid's school lunch?, The School Lunch Drama Continues, Don't just sit-in EAT-IN for healthy school lunches






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2 Comments

Lauren Strec said:

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Good! Action, instead of blaming it on the clown. This entry is featured on today's "Hot on ChicagoNow:"
http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/hot-on-chicagonow/2010/04/hot-on-chicagonow-april-7-2010.html

Aaron Lowe said:

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As someone in school, I see and eat crap food every single day. I buy lunch at school, I don't pack it. When the school switched over to diet pop, which I try to avoid at all costs, I switched to drinking Gatorade and then SoBe life water. Even those things aren't really healthy, but they are better than pop. Everyday I eat stuff grease covered or fatty. For kids to change, the schools have to change the menus. Frankly, I'm too lazy to pack a lunch, so giving me the choice of healthy vs. fatty shouldn't be a real option because I'll choose what tastes best: fatty. If only healthy food was offered, I would eat it because I'm too lazy to pack a lunch! And yes, I count fries as one of my vegetables!

I haven't watched the show, but I did see Jamie and producer Ryan Seacrest on Larry King and thought the story of the schools in WV was great!

http://www.chicagonow.com/thelowedown

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