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New York public school adopts 100% vegetarian school lunch

"Vegetarian diets...decrease the risk of heart disease, some forms of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity"

Vegetarian diets have been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease, some forms of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, said registered dietitian Martha McKittrick.

AARON SHOWALTER/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

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TEDx: Ann Cooper Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children [video]

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Can libertarian paternalism improve school lunch?

Students Outdoors Eating Lunch Thankfully more and more schools are serving healthier choices at lunchtime.  Unfortunately, kids aren’t always accepting or eating those choices.

In reading a NPR report on getting children to actually eat these healthier school lunches, I came across a term that piqued my curiosity: libertarian parternalism.

The University of Chicago faculty blog defines explains libertarian parternalism as:

The basic idea is that private and public institutions might nudge people in directions that will make their lives go better, without eliminating freedom of choice. The paternalism consists in the nudge; the libertarianism consists in the insistence on freedom, and on imposing little or no cost on those who seek to go their own way.

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Michael Pollan on School Lunch: It’s About Money [video]

Denver’s Farm to Cafeteria Program [video]

Pizza is a Vegetable? Congress Chooses Lobbyists Over Healthy School Lunches

Sadly, Congress has chosen lobbyist money over kids’ health again, but at least the mainstream media is reporting it with headlines like “Pizza is a vegetable”.

Of course, we scoff when we hear such nonsense, but I can’t help but think of our homemade pizzas that are loaded with vegetables. Unfortunately, that is not what is served in schools across the country.

Earlier this year, the USDA issued new dietary guidelines for school lunches based upon recommendations by the Institute of Medicine from 2009.  School districts responded with large districts, like LA Unified,showing how it could be done.  Last month, my own little district passed a new board policy outlining healthier school meals, as well as supporting school gardens and farm-to-school programs.

Now, in an effort to weaken the new standards for school lunches, GOP Representatives want to classify pizza as a vegetable since there is tomato paste on the crust.  The GOP feels schools are “overburdened” by the new regulations, but truly our representatives are caving into lobbyists.

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Eco-Friendly, BPA-Free Lunches: Munchkin Cloth Snack Bags and Toddler Sport Bottle

Packing your child’s school lunch is the most effective method for ensuring they eat healthy food while at school; however, often these lunches are full of plastic bags and plastic containers.  Munchkin has some solutions to this toxic packaging.

Munchkin Cloth Snack Bags: These cloth bags are really cool! We have reviewed other cloth bags that close with velcro closure and were handmade, but I do prefer the zippers on these bags. They can be thrown in the washing machine, and they avoid the use of ziplock bags in home packed lunches.  Plus, I love the prints!

These eco-friendly reusable fabric bags are perfect for packing everything from snacks to pacifiers. Made with a water-repellent lining and machine washable material, they are durable and easy to clean. (3 per pack)

The only drawback to this product is it is made in China.

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Is it Illegal to Feed Kids From the School Garden?

If you have ever tried to change a school menu, you know how challenging it can be to get the kitchen staff to alter the carefully prepared menu fearing dietary regulations.  As school gardens become more and more prevalent, the questions arises what to do with all of that healthy, organic produce.  Sharing it with families and feeding it to children are obvious work arounds to school lunch regulations, but isn’t the point to supplement the unhealthy meals served in the kitchen?

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Berkeley School Lunch Program: How to Improve School Lunches [video]

I work in public education, and I am always appalled at what is actually fed to children for their school lunches.  Whenever we bring this to the attention of the administration and school board, we are always met with the same budgetary reasons this can’t be changed.

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Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307) Awaits Obama’s Signature

Photo: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Ben+SamSchool lunches are about to improve!

School lunches are about to improve!

Good news for children’s nutrition!  Last week, the US House of Representative passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307), which was approved by the Senate in August.   Slow Food USA explains:

Over 31 million children in American schools will have a chance of a better school lunch as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307) passed today.

“Cheetos with cheese does not have a place in a school lunch program,” said Josh Viertel, President of Slow Food USA. “It is about time we gave children the school lunch they deserve.”

“We know that our food system is broken when the food we feed our children will cause one in three to develop diabetes, and when obesity levels are at an all-time high.  This Bill is far from perfect, and has involved large compromises, but is a great achievement towards our end goal of making kids healthier,” he continued.

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5 Green Products: Whole Life Nutrition to Yoga Planet

1. Simple Food for Busy Families: The Whole Life Nutrition Approach

This book is a great resource to teach families the difference between the Standard American Diet (SAD) and natural eating.  It is written for today’s busy families, and although it includes recipes, it is not a cookbook per se.

I appreciated the information included about the imbalances caused by SAD, including antidotes. These imbalances include:

  1. SAD Blood Sugar Cycle
  2. Overfed and Undernourished State
  3. Flawed Fats Imbalance

Every American should read this information.

Simple Food for Busy Families: The Whole Life Nutrition Approach goes beyond food to give solid advice to parents.  From creating a regular, relaxing, bedtime routine to gradually reducing total television and movie time, whole nutrition is really party of whole life.

Would I buy this book? Yes. I think $13.49 is a reasonable price. Publisher’s Weekly gave this book a negative review calling it  repetitive and monotonous. I disagree with these criticisms. I view this book as a resource you pick up and read sections of (not cover to cover), and if themes are repeated, it is because they are important for your children’s health.

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UK School Kids Ditch Junk Food for Vegetables They Grow

Photo by Monica R.Practical food education begins at an early age.

Practical food education begins at an early age.

I’ve long advocated for gardening with kids, not only to connect children closer with nature but to improve their diet. Food for Life Partnership, “a network of schools and communities across England committed to transforming food culture,” agrees. The Telegraph reports:

Emma Noble, director of the Food for Life Partnership, said: “It is possible to transform school food culture and to increase school meal take-up at the same time when young people’s views are listened to and school meal changes are supported by practical food education like learning to cook, growing food and visiting farms to learn where food actually comes from.”

Every school should have a garden; every child should be involved in growing food. Food for Life Partnership works with 1500 schools across England to “change their school dinners with freshly prepared local, seasonal and organic ingredients.” The group is getting amazing results, with participation in school meals growing from 30 to 400 children at one of the partner schools “bucking” the national trend of “surprisingly low” involvement in healthy school meals.

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Fast Food Hamburgers Safer Than School Lunches

Photo by ZeroOneFast food meat is safer than school lunches.

Fast food meat is safer than school lunches.

Fast food is notorious for its high calories and fat content; however, a new study has found the meat served by restaurant chains, such as McDonald’s, is actually safer than the hamburgers served in school lunches.  It is not that fast food, largely responsible for the obesity epidemic in America, is healthier than school lunches, but fast food restaurants have stricter safety standards. Considering children are “most susceptible to food-borne illnesses”, it is morally reprehensible the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) does not take food safety seriously.

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Contaminated Peanut Butter Sent to Schools

contaminated peanut butter sent to schoolsThe salmonella contaminated peanut butter recall has been in the news for weeks, yet recently it has been discovered that the federal government sent potentially tainted peanut butter and roasted peanuts to schools in California, Minnesota and Idaho in 2007.  It is unclear how much of this product remains in schools.

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Yesterday, the Department of Agriculture suspended all business with Peanut Corp. of America, and schools are checking cafeterias and vending machines for old stock. David Shipman, acting administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service stated Peanut Corp. “lacks business integrity and business honesty, which seriously and directly hinders its ability to do business with the federal government.” [Read more…]