America is fat and getting fatter. Twenty years ago, no state in the country had an obesity rate above 15%. Currently, according to a recent study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 38 states have obesity rates over 25%, and if you lump overweight people into the same group, the number jumps to 60%. These figures include kids, the future of our nation and two key parts of the problem are the persistent presence of junk food and a lack of access to scratch-cooked nutritious food. One of the key offenders making this problem worse day-by-day is…can you guess what I’m going to say? School lunches.
We’re fighting back. Guiding Stars is working towards educating and guiding kids to better nutrition. First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move program are working to get kids exercising and eating better. Health interest groups and government agencies alike are advocating for more stringent nutritional standards in schools. As Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary of Food and Nutrition Services, commented on my last blog post: “In spite of several special interest-inspired inserts in recent legislation by members of Congress on behalf of particular industrys, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act intentions to improve school meals significantly will proceed.” And Jamie Oliver? Jamie Oliver is leading a Food Revolution.
If you haven’t jumped on the Food Revolution bandwagon yet, let me tell you what you’re missing. At the heart of the movement is the belief that meals prepared with fresh, whole ingredients–rather than dumped from a box–are better for your body. How can you disagree with that? Through a bevy of campaigns, Food Revolution has become a key player in the fight to remind people–adults and kids alike–of the value of real food. It has become a meeting place, a source of inspiration, and a support network for concerned citizens who are working hard to get good food into schools.
A particularly compelling example of Food Revolution’s efforts is the School Lunch Photo Wall, where parents and teachers submit photos of the lunches served in their schools. Visitors can rate the photos on a scale of one to five stars. I recently submitted my own photo of a lunch I helped a school district here in Maine create. The entire meal cost less than $1.50 per person to make, including the price of milk, which is 35% less than the national average.
Would you eat this meal? Would your kids? I would, and it turns out, so would a lot of people! This meal has been voted as one of the best school lunches on the Food Revolution Photo Wall. Take a look at the lunches–both good and bad–on the site and see what you think. If you’re a parent, ask your child to rate my meal honestly. I want your feedback as I develop more scratch-cooked recipes for school lunch programs, and rating my meal and sharing your thoughts are easy ways to lend your voice to this important discourse. Tell Jamie Oliver so he considers it as he develops the message he shares with the millions of people visiting his site. Whether you discover a new idea to suggest to your own school or the fire of your outrage is fueled, I promise you that these photos will not fail to inspire you.