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.
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.
It’s baaaack. Pink slime, an ammonia and beef byproduct that spurred one of the most talked about controversies in 2012, is being reintroduced to school lunches now that the media spotlight has dimmed. School districts in Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are patiently waiting for their pink slime burgers to ship from the USDA, all to save mere pennies on the dollar.
Shocking as that may sound, schools in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota never stopped serving the pseudo beef. Beef Product Incorporated is the company that makes and sells pink slime, formally known as “ammonia-treated lean finely textured beef,” or LFTB. In layman’s, LFTB is unwanted bits of cow mixed with ammonia and sent through a centrifuge—just like mom used to make. This process was invented by Beef Product Inc to help get the most possible product out of cows. Then, they sell it for cheap, hence the reason school districts bought it in the first place—to save money.