With my oldest approaching Kindergarten next year, we are in full swing of researching and touring the schools here in San Francisco. Unlike many other places, the public school district here assigns a school not by neighborhood location, but by a lottery.
I have heard many horror stories about having to drive kids all the way across the city, or landing in a super poorly funded school with a bad reputation... but luckily, I've also heard many positive success stories. I have seen several family friends end up in the school they were hoping for, and also heard of siblings having gone through all their years at one school and come out feeling extremely happy with the education they received. So we're crossing our fingers we fall in the latter category....
But as I tour schools, one issue that comes to the forefront for me is, what is their school lunch policy? What do they serve? How do they teach about nutrition, if at all? And what force drives the decisions about the foods that are served, or the advertisements lining the school hallways? This is a hugely important issue because my daughter (or your child) will be spending more than half of her daytime hours there! It is where her thought processes will be influenced and opinions formed, in a way I have little control over. This is super scary considering the fact that one in three children are overweight or obese right now, will have type 2 diabetes, and are already at increased risk of heart disease. And of course, where she will be receiving at least one meal, and possibly another snack or meal, that can either boost her nutrition, or seriously detract from it.
Luckily, living in San Francisco, I feel like my kids have a jumpstart on finding vegetarian options on the regular--at least as far as restaurants go. And the SFUSD school lunch menus do reflect that. And while totally encouraged by the side options of edamame, baby carrots, hummus, and corn (Yay!!), I can see there is definitely room for improvement among the entree options (Hot dogs and Mac and "Cheeseburger" pasta, for example). :(
I do want to applaud them on making sure all of their meals are high fructose corn syrup free, and contain no artificial ingredients, and no BPA in their containers. But let's bolster some parent and community support to keep the trend moving in the right direction in each and every one of our respective communities!
Even if you're not a parent, or your kids aren't elementary-school aged, I hope you can still see how much influence the attitudes and behaviors taught in schools ultimately affect your community--not to mention, your tax dollars that are paying the increased healthcare costs for the nation. We need you!! All of you. Join me today to support PCRM's Healthy School Lunch Campaign! They are tackling this issue head on, and teaching and encouraging schools nation-wide to add more fiber and nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, while lowering saturated fat and cholesterol in meals.
Sign up here to get updates and opportunities to help make school lunches healthier, all across the nation! Thank you in advance!!