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Friday, June 6, 2014

School Lunches: Growing Your Own And Tips For Eating Better

Students at the Kimberton Waldorf School get to help cultivate the food they eat for lunch. (Kimberton Waldorf School)

Students at the Kimberton Waldorf School get to help cultivate the food they eat for lunch. (Kimberton Waldorf School)

It’s one thing for a small, private school to incorporate gardening and healthy eating into its curriculum, but what can larger, poorer urban schools do?

Many say that they don’t have the budget to afford healthier choices, and also say that kids just aren’t interested in changing the way they eat.

The debate over how to feed American school kids became heated last month when Michelle Obama lashed out at a group of House Republicans who pushed to grant waivers — or exceptions — to the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, by letting schools opt out if they said they were losing money.

As lawmakers debate the law requiring that schools provide healthier lunches in order to qualify for federal funding, we take a loot at the Kimberton Waldorf School in rural Kimberton, Pennsylvania. Waldorf schools believe in hands on education, and this one has kids grow their own lunch in a program called “Food for Thought.”

Here & Now’s Robin Young also talks to consultant Kate Adamick, co-founder of Cook for America, who says most schools already have enough money to fund healthy eating initiatives — they just need to learn how to do it. Adamick shares her recommendations on how to bring healthy food into American public schools.

Interview Highlights: Kate Adamick

On debunking the argument that kids don’t like healthy foods

That’s the biggest myth in school food, that the kids won’t eat it. The food and beverage industry loves us as adults to think that the kids won’t eat it. There are numerous studies on this that say a child has to be exposed to a certain type of food ten to twenty times before they’ll eat it. That means that we have to keep trying. We really need to remember there are no cases in recorded history of a child starving to death when there’s a plate of healthy food sitting in front of them.

Tips Adamick has given to schools to save money

“[A district was] portioning salad and food and everything in little plastic cups. When you do that, you’re paying for those little plastic cups … If you put it out for kids to take on their tray, that’s faster, that’s much less labor intensive and you save all of that money, both on the labor time and the plastic cups.”

“The federal government funds school food both with cash and with an allotment of food. You can order it either raw — so I can order raw chicken, or I can send that raw chicken to a processor and have them turn it into chicken nuggets, and chicken fingers, and chicken dinosaurs, which are typically laden with salt, fat and sugar … You pay for that. So take the free chicken in and cook the chicken.”


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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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