We just received the following press release from the Food, Family, Farming Foundation, a nonprofit organization working to make U.S. food systems more nutritious and sustainable. Chef Ann Cooper (a.k.a. the Renegade Lunch Lady) has been working to revamp school foods—including eliminating of processed ingredients, hydrogenated oils, and sugars in favor of more fresh fruits and vegetables and vegetarian entrees. Under Chef Ann's direction, my daughter's school here in Colorado has completely revitalized their menu, and so much for the better! (I wouldn't have allowed her to purchase hot lunch previously; now it's a great option.) But thousands of schools across the nation have not yet gotten the support or funding they need to implement change, and so it's important that you speak up now and tell congress to fund healthy school lunches.
The Child Nutrition Act, slated for reauthorization this year, serves up a rare opportunity for healthier funding of school lunches. Chef Ann Cooper, aka the Renegade Lunch Lady, in partnership with Slow Food USA, Roots of Change, and Healthy Schools Campaign, is rallying a million moms and dads to write Congress demanding an additional subsidy of $1 per lunch. Cooper is providing templates of letters requesting a budget increase to underwrite real (not highly processed) food for school kids: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, clean proteins and natural dairy products, with a priority on regionally produced food. This letter-writing campaign launches on the heels of the Obama administration's proposed $1 billion budget increase for school lunch subsidies. Cooper and her allies say this increase is not enough to feed our children well.
"We have the opportunity to make a positive impact and teach children about healthy food choices, which will influence their long-term health," said Cooper. "The Child Nutrition Act has not changed in 15 years and the time to help 31 million schoolchildren is now."
The Child Nutrition Act, reauthorized every five years, pays $12 billion to feed breakfast and lunch to schoolchildren, averaging only $2.68 per day for each child. Cooper and numerous nonprofit organizations and health-conscious companies are calling for an increase in funding - a dollar a day per student - dedicated 100 percent to food that promotes better health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity is the most commonly diagnosed medical condition of childhood and is a risk factor for many other diseases, including high blood pressure, asthma and type 2 diabetes.
Constituents can find the advocacy letter template at www.lunchboxadvocates.org and view informational videos at http://vimeo.com/9185123 and http://vimeo.com/9181529.