Friday, April 16, 2010

Pizza for Brains: Food for Thought

When I was a little mutt, I ate school lunch every day. My favorite food was pigs in a blanket, and on the rare occasions that we got chocolate milk, it made the highlight of the day. Now that I have kids of my own, I get to look at school lunch in a different light. A mother's light.

For instance, a couple of years ago our school district decided to make a nutritional difference during the summer break by offering free lunch every day for kids ages 2-18. Now I'm not here to target my kids schools, or even to scrutinize the beloved lunch ladies...BUT I couldn't help noticing that chocolate milk is now always the available option, and that school lunches usually offer pizza at least once a week (sometimes more), and everything is always on white bread. There is also always a plethora of vending machines offering candy and soda drinks just across the hall from the cafeteria.

I had to laugh when I noticed the banner above the crap machine alcove read: "Our Students Know How to Make Healthy Food Choices" if that maternal guilt trip will be able to persuade the solo teenager high on having 4 quarters to spend however he or she chooses.

A few years ago, I felt particularly enlightened after watching the documentary Super Size Me. In this movie, Morgan Spurlock decides to eat at McDonald's for every meal for a month...and the result is absolutely disgusting and fascinating at the same time. One segment in particular blew me away. It was about school lunches at an "alternative high school" in the school where all the would-be drop-outs and knuckleheads were sent cause they were getting in trouble or couldn't cut it in the regular system.

Like every other school, they offered straight from the freezer foods, soda machines and candy machines. When this particular school threw out their vending and contracted their food be made from scratch, the students made a 180 degree turn in behavior and grades. Unbelievable!

Which brings me to this exciting conclusion:

There is a new series on ABC that is hoping to finish off what Morgan Spurlock started. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution airs on Friday nights (tonight!) and he is working directly with public schools in what was recently ranked the most unhealthy city in America: Huntington, West Virginia.

I have seen a couple episodes so far and I love it! I hope you love it too...

You can watch past episodes on hulu
here, or watch it tonight 9/8central on ABC.


Angenette said...

Ok that Public School House Rock made me giggle.

You'd be happy to know that at the charter school where my hubby teaches, they have a veggie garden as part of a horticulture class and use the vegetables in the student store where they serve up student-made sushi, soup, salads, and other healthier alternatives for lunch, with nary a vending machine on campus.

Of course, the students also changed the school bus engine to run on bio fuel, so it's a pretty progressive school.

trieste said...

I love that show! I could not believe that Food admin lady said..."French fries are a vegetable"
What! Are you freaken kidding me!

Drew said...

I was also a daily hot lunch eater. I loved all of that processed food at the, I am afraid that my children will probably not be doing the hot lunch thing. By the way, "Food Revolution" is my husband's favorite show, and I love it to.

Thanks for the good example (because of you and your mustache comment in another post, I have been looking carefully at my milk labels.)


paula said...

Love "Food Revolution"....can you even believe how snarky those lunch ladies are to him?

Rands Family said...

I have to agree. and I love that show I have only seen it once, but I think what he is trying to do is a good thing. We need to think more about our kids then what would be the quickest way to make a lunch.

Anonymous said...

The principal in our school 'outlawed' chocolate milk with hot lunch--I wonder if it's changed anything. I should ask. They also have a great thing (which might be because we are a Title 1 school) where someone from WSU comes once a week and teaches them how to make a healthy recipe. There are some good things happening in some places . . .

Mrs. Olsen said...

Angenette and "earwax": I'm so happy to hear of schools making these changes. I was just saying to some friends: "If I was really a go-getter, I'd try to talk my kids school into having a garden and a chicken coop"..let them gather eggs and harvest veggies for their own school lunches. Instead I just pack a lunch for my kid.

Lunch ladies totally snarky! Mostly just Alice. I'm thinking she does not like this series cause she looks like a total brat.

Candice, try some new milk for a month a see how you like it?

Lee Family said...

Laugh out loud at the Public School House Rock.I have yet to know about our cafeteria because Porter eats at home every day.

Wade and Marilyn said...

I just took some grandkids to McDonald's for breakfast--shame on me!