The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

School Lunch, Interrupted

September 9th, 2009 · 4 Comments · Posted in food news, kids, politics

Kids will have to wait for better school lunches

Kids will have to wait for better school lunches

With “Eat Ins” being held around the country on Labor day to support healthier school lunches it went unnoticed by the general public that Congress intends to delay until spring any improvements to the national school lunch program.

It’s a further sign of President Obama’s struggles in his first year. Health care reform and action on climate change have sucked all the political oxygen out of the room. Obama has proposed adding $1 billion to make improvements to school lunches, but Congress has not marked up a bill. Lawmakers simply cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.

The school lunch program, re-authorized every five years, is scheduled to expire September 30. It looks like the current law will simply be extended until sometime next year.

With their White House vegetable garden and frequent statements on the need for healthier food sources, the Obamas have embraced better nutrition as a personal cause. So far, however, there’s been no sign of their interest being translated into actual policy. What we’d really like to see is a complete overhaul of the school lunch program so that we can begin to serve kids quality food on something more than a shoestring budget. Of course improvements on that scale would require lots more money, most likely from the federal government. It remains to be seen whether Congress is even willing to pony up the measly $1 billion Obama has proposed.

Somebody needs to pass the memo on to Slow Food USA, which sponsored Monday’s “Eat Ins” and has been collecting thousands of signatures to petition Congress. As recently as this morning, Slow Food was still talking about Congress debating the child nutrition act re-authorization this fall.

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  • kimsikes

    That’s really sad for such a huge effort. However, I’m unclear how an Eat In would make a difference with Congress.

    I attended a great climate-change event i DC recently with Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry and others speaking. Its was kind of a pre-party for a huge protest at the coal plant in DC the next day. I was super-pumped to be part of the protest but when I got home I realized the only way I’m going to make a change is to not use coal power. Dominion offers alternative power but I can’t afford it at this point and how can I be certain that this alternative energy is being pumped exclusively to my condo? Not sure how this all works.

    The only course of action that makes sense to me so far is “voting with your dollar”. We are a capitalist country and businesses will respond to that, especially big business (and that’s who seemingly controls our representatives anyway).

  • Ed Bruske

    Kim, the Eat Ins will generate enthusiasm and solidarity among those already convinced and attract others who may just be curious or sitting on the fence. This kind of outpouring does get noticed in Congress, although who knows how may votes it might sway. It’s part of the process, an ongoing movement.

  • colleen

    I was happy to see Slow Food take up the cause, but there seems to be such a disconnect between the grassroots enthusiasm and the political realities in Washington. So few of the sustainable food orgs have a presence in DC, unfortunately, which doesn’t bode well for when the debate really takes place.

  • Ed Bruske

    Colleen, there are groups lobbying for improvements in school food. I posted earlier about being part of a mob that descended on Capitol Hill to lobby for legislation that would remove junk food from schools. But your right–it’s nothing compared to the huge presence of coroporations representiong the food and agriculture interests.