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Lunch Wars: Bringing Real Food Back to the Schools

In  the novel Lunch Wars, Amy Kalafa, points out we need to teach our children the fundamental importance of good food. “Developing a sense of taste is not just for food snobs. The connection between healthy food, healthy soil, and healthy kids is made through the sense of taste. Teaching children to taste real food at a young age enable them to discern junk food as junk.” It is this food advocacy that needs to be prevalent in more schools. In this novel she teaches for parents to advocate for their children’s health through research,  policy planning, and taking the step forward to speak your mind.

As I read Lunch Wars it made me appreciate the elementary school my children attend for its stringent nutritional guidelines. It offers a nutritious hot lunch program offered once a month in which the meal is made from scratch from local resources. It is in this health food initiative in which children learn the benefits of eating good slow food.

The school also has a plot in the community garden were children participate each spring in the garden club learning how to grow vegetables. It’s these initiatives that teach my children between the taste of a carrot from a fresh garden in comparison to the bulk bag from the super store.

It is teaching  our children the benefits of healthy eating and how to make wise choices with their food options. As my children grow,gain part-time jobs, I won’t be able to hold their hand our control what they consume on a daily basis.  But to ban junk food completely from schools doesn’t prepare them for the real world. As they grow older we need to helicopter less and hope they do make the wise choices. However, if my child is eating a balanced diet I see nothing wrong in enjoying a cup cake every now and then.

Balance and moderation are key to a healthy diet. As our children grow we need to advocate for healthy meals offered in the high school cafeteria. I also know as parents we need to start the education early in the homes because it is not the schools responsibility to monitor our children’s diets. However, we  do need to find balance within the schools to create and provide more healthy options besides pizza and fries.

Do you think schools need to take a more healthy approach to the meal selections they offer? If, so why? Also  check out more about Lunch Wars at BlogHer Book Club and join the  lively discussions!

This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Categories: Amy Kalafa BlogHer Book Club Book Review Education Lunch Wars motherhood non-fiction parenting school lunch programs school lunches slow food movement

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Darcie Cameron is a RYT 200 who believes Yoga is a gift that is accessible to everyone with proper modifications, a patient smile and just taking the time to breathe. One of the greatest presents you will ever unwrap is when you connect your mind, body and spirit in perfect sync with your own breath. Connect with Darcie on Facebook

16 replies

  1. I still do not understand why a school lunch cannot consist of a piece of meat, a starch, a vegetable and a piece of fruit and fresh bread (without chemicals added). That’s what I grew up on in the stone age – and very few of us were fluffy/chunky, and obesity was rare. Seems to me it would solve a lot of the food problems, and end up costing much less.

    1. I agree with you a balanced diet with no chemicals should be integrated into school cafeterias. One of the suggestions the author points out is to use our local farms in providing fresh vegetables instead of relying on frozen processed food. I think by making it a community initiative it teaches children where their food comes from and appreciate the benefits of a balanced diet.

    1. I also agree with June about promoting healthy slow foods and a balance diet. However, I feel that we need to teach our children how to enjoy a treat in moderation and recognize that when they are full it’s time to stop eating.

  2. Yes, schools do need to act,in ways exemplary on diet. School is a place of learning, and learning involves our bodies, from reproduction to diet, and the full range should be under discussion. There may not be sex in schools but there is food, feed ’em the healthy stuff, and maybe even let them learn to lend a hand.

  3. I remember my school lunches, almost totally devoid of nutritional content, and I wonder what it’ll be like when Li’l D goes to school in a few years. I know that whatever the situation is, I’m going to be an active participant in his health.

    It’s been nearly a year since I first started learning to cook recipes off of My incentive? Ensuring Li’l D is eating food that’s more “food” than “food substance.”

    And here I’d always thought nothing could make me learn to cook . . .

    1. It’s funny how children change our perspective on food. We want to give them the best we can in all aspects of their lives. I think a nutritional program would be perfect in all school cafeterias. However, with the state of the economy the one thing you need to advocate is how you will save more by using quality vegetables from local farmers. The book is the perfect good for becoming an advocate for your children and their lunch programs.

  4. When I was teaching, I always ate the school lunch that the students were eating that day. With very few exceptions our school lunches were good and nutritious. I think that if they made a few changes to lunch time, kids would eat more than they throw away. Our students eat first then go out for recess. They are always so anxious to get outside to be with their friends that they hardly eat any of their food. If they did recess first then I think they would settle down and eat more. The problem with that is the students that don’t eat breakfast are starving by lunchtime.

    1. Our school actually reversed outdoor recess so it is at the start of lunch they play outside and come in before class to have lunch. My children love it because they worked up their appetite outside and are more apt to eat what is in their lunch. It really makes a difference in how the eat, play, and socialize at lunch time.

  5. Yes! I think healthy food makes for healthy kids, and one of the reasons so many adults are “so tired” all of the time is that we’ve never learned how to eat properly. It is hard, though. We’re just as busy as we are tired, and it is just so easy to grab something quick and fried for ourselves, and for our kids. That this issue is being addressed in a novel is fantastic. It means that the real food movement has made significant inroads into Western consciousness. Great review!

    1. It is hard! We are constantly on the go and wired sometimes that slow fresh meal just isn’t going to happen…In a dream world we would all have our own gardens full of fresh produce and a kitchen warm full of good food. The novel does address a lot of great issues and really makes you think about what your family is digesting. It’s lots of food for thought.

  6. maybe if the world follows Denmark’s lead and starts charging a tax for higher fat content in food then maybe schools will change the menu eh?

      1. That’s a great idea! I’ll order grilled lobster with a touch of lemon sauce, sun dried tomato salad with fresh from the farm endive and avocado slices. Make it happen, please!!

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