"The food that we serve is healthy and nutritious and very good quality."
Healthy and nutritious? Very good quality? Ladies and gentlemen, I saw with my own two eyes the food served for breakfast and lunch daily at LA Unified elementary schools for seven years. That's right, folks, I taught for LA Unified for seven years in low-income elementary schools where nearly every child qualified for the free lunch program. Most of my students ate breakfast and lunch at school everyday. And let me tell you, to hear someone describe that food as "healthy and nutritious and very good quality" on the radio made me laugh out loud.
Breaded mystery patty. Soggy pizza. Crustless PB&J in a plastic bag. Chicken nuggets. French fries. As one of LAUSD's student taste-testers put it: "Even though they say the food's healthy here, I know it's not. This is microwaved food." Reheated packaged processed food. That's what poor inner-city minority children, already at greater risk for obesity, diabetes and a host of other health problems, are eating twice a day. That's what our tax dollars are funding.
There was often a token piece of fruit on the tray, which, sadly, often went straight in the trash. I used to sit and eat lunch with my students occasionally, and force everyone to eat some fruit or vegetables before leaving the table to play. But it was a losing battle. If I'd known during my teaching days that I would one day be blogging about food issues and going green, I would have taken photos of the cafeteria food served to my students. Then I'd have proof. (Note that while the school lunches pictured throughout this post are not from LA Unified specifically, they remind me of the food I witnessed being served to kids when I taught there.)
I often used to think to myself, somebody's cousin is getting rich off this garbage. How else could you explain the contents of those trays? It seemed like the program's main purpose was to serve as a dumping ground for the processed food industry. While some teachers sometimes ate the cafeteria food, when I forgot my lunch, I chose to go hungry rather than eat anything that came out of the school kitchen. And this was before I ever bought a vegetable at the farmer's market or cared about the ingredients of my personal products. Even then, I knew that food was disgusting.
So, I've decided it's time to get a little bit more involved.
- I now follow the Food Revolution on Facebook, Twitter, and receive email updates.
- I signed the Food Revolution petition. I also signed their petition to remove sugary strawberry and chocolate milk from school lunches.
- I'm going to watch Food Revolution on Hulu when I get the chance.
- I've started reading The Lunch Tray, a blog that follows school lunch issues.
Take action on other timely topics:
- Watch and share Healthy Child Healthy World's most recent video: Sound the Alarm
- If you are a California resident, ask your Senators to support SB 147, to remove toxic flame retardants from consumer products like couches and nursing pillows
- Ask your Senators to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act, which will update our outdated and ineffective toxic chemicals regulation.
- Visit my Take Action page for even more ways to get involved.
How will you take action?