Over the last two years, I’ve kept you updated on Civil Eats regarding a brewing controversy over school food nutrition standards. That battle now seems likely to end in a relative victory for children’s health.
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First, the bad news: Native American children face approximately twice the levels of food insecurity, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes relative to all children in the United States.
The good news is that many communities are working to shift these statistics using traditional food, agriculture, and education. As Alena Paisano, a member of the Laguna Pueblo community who works with Farm to Table New Mexico, puts it: “These lessons go back hundreds of thousands of years. This is in harmony with our creation stories.” Read more
Getting high school students to embrace healthy eating is an age-old battle. And when it comes to lunch, many eschew their school cafeteria in favor of eating off-campus, where healthy choices don’t always abound.
Now school districts are starting to lure their students into eating better—by getting their own food trucks up and running on campus. Read more
When my kids’ Houston school district instituted a free in-class breakfast program five years ago, it did so for all the right reasons. Over 80 percent of the students were coming from economically disadvantaged homes, and the district understood that hungry children simply can’t learn effectively. And while Houston had long offered free breakfast in the cafeteria before the first school bell, a variety of obstacles—parents’ work schedules, late school buses, even feelings of shame and stigma—had kept a significant number of hungry kids away. Read more
It’s 9:30 on a Wednesday morning in a third grade classroom at Hannah Elementary School in Beverly, Massachusetts, and Leilani Mroczkowski, Education Coordinator of Green City Growers, is pretending to be a radish. She’s squatting on the ground, holding her knees, with her long black dreads hanging down toward her dirt-caked work boots. Behind Mroczkowski, her coworker Hadas Yanay is standing on her tiptoes, with her arms stretched toward the ceiling. Read more
It’s that time of year again. Kids are headed back to school and their lunch is on our minds. School food has been a hot button topic since 2010, when First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move!, her hallmark program to end childhood obesity, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its nutrition standards for school cafeterias. For the last five years, we’ve worked hard to shine a spotlight on this complex, highly political issue. In this month’s editor note, I’ll take a look at our stories as a quick primer of what you need to know. Read more
As millions of students around the nation return to school cafeterias this month, Congress will begin to make some important decisions about what exactly those students will be eating in the years to come.
The “Child Nutrition Reauthorization” (CNR) takes place every five years and shapes federal legislation that authorizes and funds the National School Lunch Program and other key child nutrition programs. But the CNR involves more than just pro forma approval of these long-standing programs. It also gives lawmakers an opening to review—and potentially alter—child nutrition policy. Read more
Readers trust the opinions of their favorite “mom bloggers”; many buy products and services based solely on their recommendation. Recognizing the inherent value of this online word of mouth, corporations now court these writers as potential brand ambassadors, offering them everything from samples and free trips to outright payments to try to harness their social media clout. By one estimate, all of those perquisites and fees add up to a trillion dollar business. Read more
Many parents have trouble accessing school food ingredient lists, and when they do, they’re often appalled by what they learn. They might expect to find chemical additives in snacks, such as Hot Cheetos, but it can be surprising to learn, as one parent who contacted me recently did, that a chicken sandwich entreé can contain upwards of 60 ingredients. Read more
In the past four years, school meals in Detroit have been transformed. Gone are the chicken nuggets and sugary drinks. Now school cafeterias serve fresh fruit and mixed baby green salads, lean meat, low-fat milk, and whole grain breads. Better yet, some even serve produce from school gardens and local farmers. Read more