What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, July 09, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
By Claire Stanford
For many (most?) twenty-somethings like myself, issues like school lunch can be murky and distant. Im not eating school lunch; nor do I have children who are eating school lunch (nor will I in the foreseeable future). When I think of school lunch, I mostly envision a Wonder Years-style cafeteria line, complete with mystery meat (or is it called Salisbury steak?) and a scoop of mashed potatoes. Not so bad, not so good, but unchanging and unchangeable. Right? Wrong.
School lunch isnt unchanging and it isnt unchangeable. It is changing: it is largely getting worse looking more and more like fast food, with fewer and fewer nutrients for the kids, and more and more fat and calories. This information alone that kids were eating pizza and chicken nuggets and baloney and cheese sandwiches was surprising to me, making my Wonder Years visions look like home-cooked meals.
But what was truly shocking to me was just how possible it is to change school lunch for the better, just how changeable school lunch (and breakfast) is. For years now, since I realized just how bad school lunch really is, I have been wondering about legislation. There must be some way to change things, I thought, if only there was some way But I figured that was just the way it is; thats just what school lunch had to be, that it was a meal put in place by a government action a billion years ago that would take an act of divine intervention to ever get back on the Hill.
And then, this year, I discovered the Child Nutrition Act. For one thing, I had no idea there was one all-encompassing bill that covered not only school lunch, but also school breakfast. And for two, and perhaps more importantly, I had no idea that this all-encompassing wonder bill came up for reauthorization in Congress every five years.
I think a lot of people out there are like me: we know that school lunch is abominable and shameful, but it seems like such a large, vague problem that it just isnt even approachable. Starting from scratch to fix a problem as widespread and systemic as school lunch is intimidating, but thats the thing we dont have to start from scratch. A discussion of school lunch is actually built in to legislation every five years, and the next reauthorization coming up this September. And that means that we actually have a chance to make a change this year or if you really think about it, to make a change this year, and then five years from now, and then five years from then.
I care about school lunch because five years from now (or five years from then), I may be sending my kids to school, and I want to be confident theyre getting a lunch that is both tasty and nutritious. I care because my taxes will be paying for the health care costs of diabetes (which one in three children born after the year 2000 will have). I care because better school lunch can help stimulate local economies, by giving workers skills and investing in local farms. I care because school lunch is a holistic problem, with wide-ranging implications; and I care because school lunch is also a specific issue, and because on that most specific level it the food we are feeding children is shameful.
Want to be part of a country that feeds its children right? Sign the Time for Lunch petition, organize an Eat-In, and be aware that school lunch affects everyone in America, whether or not you or your child is eating it.
Claire Stanford is an MFA student at the University of Minnesota and a blogger at Food Junta.
Posted on Thu, July 09, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Amy McCoy likes to keep up with food and sustainability news. And she should as the blogger of Pour Girl Gourmet and the leader of Slow Food Rhode Island, she keeps up with the local and national scene of the food movement. Amy created an account with Twitter a few months ago, and through the service, she recently found out about a recipe contest sponsored by Regionalbest.com. The contest, Asparagus Lovers Unite for Obama! searched for the best asparagus recipe in America and was designed as a fun way to support the Obamas efforts to get more green into the White House. They contest also tried to help President Obama discover new ways to enjoy asparagus. (you may find asparagus growing in the White House garden, but you wont find it on the Presidents plate).
Amys Pancetta, Asparagus and Sundried Tomato Sandwich was not only proclaimed as the best sandwich of his life by Amys husband, but it also won RegionalBest.coms Grand Prize in May. Her recipe and seven regional recipes will be sent to the White House with hopes of convincing the president to give asparagus another chance. Amy found out that she won the contest through a notice on Twitter, and since then she has been enjoying the grand prize winnings - delicacies sent to her by RegionalBest.com.
When shes not tending to her vegetable garden or planning projects for her local chapter, Amy is developing recipes for her forthcoming cookbook, a collection of recipes for 4 people that cost $15 or less. Amys recipes focus on seasonal ingredients and items found at the supermarket, and her goal is to de-mystify cooking and help make it a fun and low-cost activity.
The Challenge is keeping it to $15 without having so many stipulations, such as cutting coupons, or time-intensive activities such as making your own beans, Amy said. She experiments with vegetables on a daily basis, and recently learned from a neighbor that its okay to eat the leaves of nasturtium flowers, and she made a delicious pesto using them. Her book, tentatively titled The Poor Girl Gourmet Cookbook, will be published next year.
Amy is following Slow Food USA on Twitter. You can too! Click here.
Posted on Tue, July 07, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
First published on School Lunch Talk. Deborah Lehmann is an editor of School Lunch Talk, a blog about school food. She is currently studying economics and public policy at Brown University.
Imagine if Las Vegas built a Costco-themed hotel with a particular emphasis on chicken nugget samples and then filled the building with lunch ladies. Thats the best way I can describe the School Nutrition Associations annual food expo, which is taking place right now in Vegas Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Every summer, thousands of lunch ladies flock to the show to sample the newest industry products for school lunch. They stroll through over 800 booths, tasting everything from popcorn chicken and mini cheeseburgers, to whole-grain doughnuts and blue-raspberry slushees. Forget flipping through cookbooks today, this is the menu planning process for your kids school cafeteria.
If you want a birds eye view of the problems plaguing school food, this is the place to go. The expo boasted 40 booths showcasing ice cream, cakes, cookies, puddings and other desserts. Over 20 booths peddled poultry (mostly breaded) and 20 more featured beef products. Pizza showed up at 12 booths. Fresh fruits and vegetables showed up at only 10.
I accumulated a thick stack of spec sheets and brochures during my four-hour stroll through the booths this morning. Heres just a random sampling of the products on display:
Posted on Fri, July 03, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
As more people across America sign up to organize Eat-Ins for Time for Lunch, were hearing some wonderfully creative ideas from organizers.
The leaders of Slow Food Charleston are spearheading Children Supporting Children for Healthy School Lunch, a summer-long initiative where kids from the Charleston, SC community will talk about Time for Lunch at tables setup in front of local food markets. Starting June 30th, theyll be manning (supervised) tables at the Whole Foods Market in Mt. Pleasant, at Earthfare in West Ashley and at Harris Teeter on East Bay Street. Alongside community members, the kids will discuss and answer questions about Time for Lunch, gather signatures for the Time for Lunch petition and provide market-goers with packets of information about ways to get involved.
According to Melissa Clegg, the Slow Food Charleston member leading the program, This campaign aims to empower children by giving them the tools and the platform to take initiative for the building of their futures and the futures of children without a voice. Every child I have spoken with has identified with the issue of school lunch and been energized to fight for healthier choices that help build our local communities and reduce negative impacts on the environment.
Slow Food Charlestons extraordinary work with children and local food education did not start with the Time for Lunch campaign. This past Sunday, Clegg and chapter leader Carole Addlestone held a Bring-Your-Own Picnic fundraising event on Wadmalaw Island to benefit their organic garden project at Sanders-Clyde Elementary in downtown Charleston. Last week, the project was featured in Charlestons Post and Courier.
As Slow Food moves forward with its campaign to give schools across America the resources to serve real food and to plant gardens like the one at Sanders-Clyde Elementary Melissa and Carole continue to work with Charlestons youth. With their help, several children from Charleston schools have written letters to their legislators, letting them know how important healthier school lunches are to our nations future.
If youre in Charleston on September 7th, the day of the National Eat-In, make sure to attend one of the several small community Eat-Ins Slow Food Charleston is planning. To get involved, please write Carole Addlestone (caroladdlestone[at]mindspring.com).