School Lunch – Pizza And Potato PoliticsPosted December 1st, 2011 by Food Revolution Team
The Food Revolution has recently been reporting on the disappointing news that Congress has overruled some of the new school lunch standards recommended earlier in the year by the USDA. Lobbied heavily by the food industry, Congress changed the rules at the last minute to keep salty, highly processed, fast-food style items on the lunch tray every day.
These new standards for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) were the first major changes in 15 years, based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and backed by 130,000 public comments. Yet Congress has overruled these standards – removing recommended limits on starchy vegetables and classifying 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to count as a vegetable. So essentially pizza can be classed as a vegetable and French fries can be served every day.
However, despite these pizza and potato politics, all is not lost. Other important gains were made when the USDA meal standards were released earlier in the year, both on and off the tray.
We will still get double the overall fruits and vegetables in school meals each day and access to clean drinking water will increase among other lunch tray improvements. Aside from the lunch tray, schools will need to implement stronger wellness policies and menu information, and limits will be placed on all foods and ‘a la carte’ items sold outside of the NSLP.
All this reinforces just how important it is that we find out exactly what is on the lunch tray, to see whether pizza and fries are available each day and make sure that the other changes go ahead. Your school can get started with these changes straight away!
The Food Revolution School Lunch Photo Wall provides a great opportunity to see what is on the lunch tray in schools across the country and all over the world. Here you can compare these lunches to those served in your local schools and decide for yourself whether you think they are good enough.
The photo wall will now remain open for the whole of the 2011/2012 school year in order for us to build a powerful showcase of school lunches during this time and to compare for years to come. So if you haven’t already, visit your local schools for lunch, see and taste the Food for yourself, snap a photo and add it to our school lunch photo wall.
Thanks for your support,
The Food Revolution Team