Changing the School Lunch Menu
The University of Missouri Extension isn’t alone in promoting food ideologies to students. This article about school food in Southampton, N.Y., describes how teachers there urge students to lobby for different cafeteria food:
“What do I keep telling you guys you have to be?” she asked her class.
“The Generation of Change!” they responded.
Besides alluding to a presidential campaign, the exchange belies the familiar assertion that students are clamoring for local food without any prompting by adults.
Alongside the praise of local food, the article reports on a valuable perspective that receives too little attention in the school lunch debates. It’s from a district administrator, who explains that nutritious food doesn’t have to be local. This is what I’ve been saying all along:
Even if the food is not coming from a local farm, Ms. Kiembock said that she works hard to bring healthy food to students through other means. For instance, she said that she does not allow fried foods in the cafeterias, uses either brown rice or a mixture between brown and white rices, and encourages her staff to use as much produce in its recipes as possible.
It’s the best answer I can think of to this editorial about the University of Missouri Extension, which claims that “having locally produced food in public schools would make a lot of folks happier and a lot of kids healthier.” You may think local food is nutritious, but if you want public schools to give it precedence over food from other sources, you need to show that it confers benefits that similar foods from other places can’t.
Local food advocates like to point out that homegrown vegetables are healthier than imported junk food; however, that’s isn’t the relevant comparison. We should ask: Is whole wheat or brown rice from our state healthier than the same grains from far away? Advocates haven’t made that case.