As many blog posts as I have written bemoaning school lunches and nutrition for kids, it's refreshing to share good news. Here's an updated menu with the proposed USDA changes for better nutrition for school meals. It's much improved and I was even surprised to see jicama on the ingredients list.
What I like most about it is that it is a bit realistic. It's healthier swaps for things kids have been eating, what I would call "transitional foods." There's a chance kids will actually eat part of these lunches. Much of the rationale used to block school food changes hinged on precisely that: kids won't eat healthy foods. There is more waste. It won't work. And, frankly, they are right. If kids won't eat these items at home, how can we expect them to at school?
It's like a chicken and egg thing. Or a chicken nugget and egg mcmuffin thing. Do kids eat poorly because they get junk food in schools every day, or do kids eat junk food every day so they will only eat junk food in schools?
I've read with envy all the amenities and fresh food that Alice Water's and Co. have implemented in Berkeley, California schools along with their Edible Schoolyard program. I think about that program, even as I am applauding these hard-won changes. But read this article in Grist about just how well the kids in Berkeley are eating and what they are not eating. Do they eat a better diet and non-processed foods than other kids? Yes. But, even with all the advantages, frankly, the kids still aren't eating as well as they could.
We're winning in our school, which is incredibly important for kids whose best meals and main nutrition for the week come from our school lunch program. Let's not stop here.
Let's keep fixing school lunches.
Let's fix lunch at home.
Let's help others get access to affordable, healthy foods.
Let's make healthier choices in quick serve restaurants.
Let's tackle junk food marketing to kids.
Let's tackle our whole food system that's designed around commodity crops for animal feed and processed foods.
This story originally appeared in The (ex)Expatriate's Kitchen blog.
This post is part of the MomsRising "Making the School Day Healthier" Blog Carnival headlined by Top Chef Lorena Garcia."