Sunday, March 21, 2010

Potpourri: School Food News Roundup

Congratulations to Andrea Northup and her crew of volunteers for putting on a fantastic conference last week connecting local schools with food service directors who have successfully incorporated local farm products into their school meals.

Doug Davis, of the Burlington, Vermont, schools gave a fascinating keynote address explaining how, over a period of years, the schools there have reached out to local farmers and switched national brands for local products and still managed to stay within budget. Closer to home, Andrea Early told how schools in Harrisonburg, Virginia, have similarly brought local fruits and vegetables to cafeteria trays.

See! It can be done....


'Jaimie Oliver's Food Revolution," wherein the celebrity British chef tackles the obesity problem in Huntington, West Virginia--dubbed America's unhealthiest city--begins airing tonight at 10 on ABC. Washington Post TV critic Hank Steuver is not impressed, saying Oliver "regurgitates the worst of reality TV pap."

Apparently, Oliver didn't get a warm reception, exactly, from the folks in Huntington. At one point, he visits a local radio station where the DJ quips: "We don't want to sit around and eat lettuce all day. Who made you king?"

At a local elementary school, Oliver watches "breakfast pizza" being served and remarks, "It's that kind of food that's killing America." To which one of the cooks replies: "You don't have processed food in England?"

Still, Americans stand to learn a bit about the true nature of school food by tuning in.


Michelle Obama addressed food manufacturers last week about her anti-obesity campaign, "Let's Move," and nutritionist/author Marion Nestle applauds. Here, Nestle gives an account of how some companies are responding to the obesity message--and how much some of them are spending to lobby for their own interests.


Coke and Pepsi have joined a group of food giants who say they support giving the U.S. Department of Agriculture autority to regulate all foods sold in schools--not just those offered in the reimbursible lunch line--which could mean the end of "junk" food in schools.

Pepsi is also running ads boasting that the company is removing sugary sodas from schools worldwide over the next two years.


Finally, a Child Nutrition Act re-authorization that would boost the federal subsidy for school lunch a measly 6 cents received an official markup in the U.S. Senate. Over at Grist, Tom Philpott offers this analysis.

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