Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Raise Your Hand for Better School Lunches

School lunch has been all over the news lately, and the reports aren't pretty.  Not only are we feeding our kids beef that many fast food joints won't even touch, we're also counting the french fry as a vegetable, plastic-wrapping grilled cheeses, and serving pizza with more than 25 ingredients.

The thing is, it's not easy to make a healthy, nutritious school lunch on just one or two dollars.  Which is just how much money is currently available per meal.  Even Obama's newest budget proposal will only add an additional $.20 per kid.

And yet, the problem is more complicated than this.  School lunches won't get better just because they cost more.  It's going to take a thoughtful, refined effort to provide our children with the nutritious, healthy food they deserve.

That's why you should know about two important pieces of Virginia legislation that have been introduced this year.  Both have the potential to get more healthy, locally-grown fruits and vegetables into our schools. 

First up, one that could use your support:

  • HB398 would facilitate the purchase of Virginia-grown food products by state agencies, institutions and local public school divisions to the maximum extent possible. Virginia schools currently spend more than $6 million annually on fresh produce — shouldn't some (or all!) of that money stay right here in VA?

Next up, a joint resolution that just passed last week.  Hoorah!

So, your homework for tonight?  Get the scoop on this latest legislation, and do what you can to help.

HB398: Summary | Actual Bill

image credit:  Showalter for NY Daily News


  1. So glad to see this information about school lunches - an aspect of our food system with plenty of opportunity for improvement! Glad to hear you also mentioned it will take more than increased funding to change lunches - let's also think about investing in real kitchens for schools with working ovens and making a commitment to hiring and training chefs, cooks, and nutritionists - not just "food service employees". So glad the Local Food Hub is working with our local schools on this important issue.

  2. I would love to see school lunches improve significantly. I have 4th and 5th graders in C'ville city schools and they have never once bought lunch at school. They always, always, always pack -- not because they're overly picky, but because even my kids recognize how unhealthy their school lunches are. They're also put off by how much waste is created with the lunches -- pre-wrapped foods, disposable trays, etc.