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Hot Lunch! Four People Who Made School Lunch Reform Happen

The wheels of school lunch reform are finally starting to turn, even if pizza is still considered a vegetable.

The days of fuzzy chicken nuggets, grey burgers, and gelatinous square pizza are fading away. President Obama signed the Child Nutrition Bill three years ago, which gave the USDA authority to set nutritional standards for all foods regularly sold in schools during the school day, including vending machines, the “a la carte” lunch lines, and school stores.

School lunch

Congress passed the $4 billion bill, but regular citizens are responsible for getting their attention. Although schools have started serving more nutritious foods—breads and crusts with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, salads—the war is still on. The USDA had a PR nightmare in 2012 with “pink slime”—a meat byproduct made of random cow parts and ammonia—yet schools in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota continue to serve the stuff.

On a global scale, school lunch reform has been a common theme. In England, flamboyant chef, Jamie Oliver, took up the cause, and in the U.S., blogger Sarah Wu (aka Mrs. Q), First Lady Michelle Obama, and Chef Ann Cooper have carried the torch. All of their efforts worked to ensure that the future leaders of the world wouldn’t be fed the cheapest, most processed, and least nutritious junk imaginable.


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Michelle Obama Announces Healthier School Lunches Today

michelle obama addressing nutrition First lady Michelle Obama has championed the issue of children’s health and nutrition through her Let’s Move! campaign and other programs that improve access to fresh produce. Today, she and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced changes to the national school lunch program, as outlined by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was passed last year. The act gives the USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods served in schools.

The event was held at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia. Students and parents attending the event will be served a healthy meal prepared by celebrity chef Rachael Ray and school’s food service staff.


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Chef Ann Cooper’s Proposed Changes for a Healthier National School Lunch Program

The week of August 10 is Healthy Back to School Week at DietsInReview.com.

chef ann renegade lunch ladyChef Ann Cooper, also known as the Renegade Lunch Lady, has she’s made it her life’s mission to reform the way our children eat, and are fed, at school. Which is why we’re thrilled she’s a part of this special series. At ChefAnn.com, they say “She works to transform cafeterias into culinary classrooms for students — one school lunch at a time.”

Yesterday, Chef Ann spoke about the National School Lunch Program Needing a Makeover. Her commentary continues now.

As for my team and I, we’d like to be spending all of our time and money feeding children delicious healthy food and educating them on where their food comes from and how it’s produced. To make this happen, the NSLP truly needs a makeover!

I believe that the following guidelines, if put into place, would help us focus on feeding children “real,” healthy and delicious food.

  • Make meals, both breakfast and lunch, a system where every child is fed every day. This would alleviate the need for free and reduced applications and tracking.
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Chef Ann Cooper says the National School Lunch Program Needs a Makeover

The week of August 10 is Healthy Back to School Week at DietsInReview.com.

chef ann renegade lunch ladyIt’s a pleasure to have Chef Ann Cooper join us during our Healthy Back to School Week. She’s also known as the Renegade Lunch Lady, as she’s made it her life’s mission to reform the way our children eat, and are fed, at school. She is currently the director of nutrition services for the Berkeley Unified School District, where she has transformed the nutritional quality of food at 16 schools serving 9,000 students. In 2006 she released Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed our Children. At ChefAnn.com, they say “She works to transform cafeterias into culinary classrooms for students — one school lunch at a time.”

Sometime in late 2009 or early 2010, the government will vote to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, which funds the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). I believe that the NSLP is in need of a complete overhaul. The inception of the program was predicated on the fact that there were malnourished children all across the country that couldn’t learn or think. As these same children grew into adulthood, they became a National Security liability, because many of them were too malnourished to become an active part of our armed forces.
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