There is now nationwide awareness of the growing problem of obesity in our country, how it is related to eating habits, and particularly, the importance of a eating healthy foods at school. Our numbers are many, and healthier school lunches are coming!
LAUSD food services directors are making strides toward improving the LAUSD lunch menu in their Cafeteria Improvement Committee. A number of movers and shakers in the farmers market / organic / locally-sourced food scene are on this committee.
The Tyson – LAUSD contract discussion has still not happened in the LAUSD School Board arena; we are awaiting news of it becoming an agenda item in the coming months, hopefully in November. Stay tuned for updates!
In the meantime, what can we all do to keep the push on towards healthier school lunches?
We can advocate for change across LAUSD. Write a letter or email to the LAUSD board members, and advocate for:
More money be alloted to actual food and food preparation. Did you know that for each lunch, LAUSD Food Services has 77 cents available to spend on actual food? Renegade Lunch Lady Chef Ann has remarked that it takes at least $1.25 to fund a healthy, freshly prepared lunch.
More time to eat lunch. Many schools have very little time allotted to eating lunch, sometimes 1/2 hour or less! No wonder are kids are “eating on the run,” a proven link to overweight and obesity. Eating well needs time. Where does the extra time come from? We know that the school day is jam-packed, and that time is at a premium, but lunch is important and it deserves a significant place in the school day.
Bring the kitchens back to the schools! Most kids who eat school lunch eat a processed, reheated lunch that was trucked in that day from a central warehouse. Foods need to be heavily processed with preservatives, stabilizers, and other muckety-muck to remain palatable through this process. Advocate for on-site food preparation, to ensure healthier, less processed food options for students.
You can advocate for change at your individual school:
- Get involved with local groups working for school lunch change. The Healthy School Food Coalition in the Urban Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College helped write legislation to get soda and junk food vending machines out of LAUSD schools.
- Partner with a local chef to teach cooking classes and food awareness to students. Chefs like Lisa Fontanesi of Kidding Around the Kitchen teaches at Glenfeliz Elementary, and Meg Taylor of Large Marge Sustainables teaches a class in “Easy and Rewarding Methods of Resilience: simple eating, cooking, how to barter, fun and food!” at Thomas Starr King Middle School in Silver Lake. First Lady Michelle Obama has recently advocated for more chefs and school partnerships in her campaign targeting childhood obesity.
- Lower the Overall fast-digesting carb intake of students: Owing to the evergrowing trend of child obesity, it is more important now than ever for schools to arrange balanced lunch meals for students. Out of the three macronutrients, school lunch is often associated with high carb and fat content. Additionally, schools should actively make sure that students participate in sports and functional activities. To recommend some balanced meal options, here’s a couple of low-carb recipes that can be considered as alternatives.