Posted on Wed, April 29, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
23 Comments | Categories: Food Justice, News, Current Events, Policy, School Food,
by Gordon Jenkins
Patricia Mulvey reports on the blog F is for French Fry that last Friday, a group of fourth-graders at Nuestro Mundo Elementary School in Madison, WI had planned to protest the unhealthy food served in their cafeteria by staying behind in class during recess and enjoying a home-cooked meal with fresh fruits and vegetables. Their Real Food Picnic you might call it an Eat-In was canceled, however, when the school districts assistant superintendent alerted parents and administrators and asked them to discourage the event, citing concerns about food allergies, lack of supervision and the presence of news media.
The students are members of a group called Boycott School Lunch (BCSL) that they founded last fall after conducting some gross experiments like measuring how much grease they could squeeze out of a hamburger. This year, theyve been learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement in history class. When teacher Joshua Forehand showed them a film about the Childrens Crusade that took place in Birmingham, AL in 1963, the students were inspired to organize a peaceful protest in support of improving school lunch.
Fourth-grader Sierra Mueller-Owens told The Capital Times that We had planned really good meals [for the protest], and I was hoping a lot of people would enjoy it. She also hoped that the school districts food service would feel the impact of fewer school lunches sold that day. Instead of a organizing a protest potluck, BCSL is now planning a letter-writing and petition campaign. Parents have requested a meeting with district administrators to discuss supporting the students efforts and improving the school lunch program in order to provide healthier food.
According to the Cap Times, student boycotts of school lunch have been cropping up all over the country lately. In the Westby school district near Lacrosse, WI, middle-schoolers staged a three-week school lunch boycott last year. The students bold action exasperated school administrators and led to a district-wide meeting that brought 250 parents together to address school lunch.
This fall, the Child Nutrition Act, which is the bill that funds and sets standards for the National School Lunch Program, is up for reauthorization. That students themselves are organizing for change is a sign of how urgently we need reform. Its time for parents, teachers and responsible citizens to take action: lets push Congress and the Obama Administration to take the first step towards a future where no child is denied his or her right to good health and a good education by passing a Child Nutrition Act with more funding and better nutritional standards. The health of the 30 million children who eat school lunch everyday is at stake. We can’t let them down.