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Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act: A Good Start

12/14/2010 12:00:00 AM

Tags: school lunches, food

Amid much fanfare, President Obama this week signed into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The White House declared the act “a major step forward in our nation’s effort to provide all children with healthy food in schools.” The legislation aims to provide the more than 31 million children who receive school lunches with healthier food options and teach all kids to make healthy food choices and develop healthy eating habits.

That’s the good news. The bad news? The law also calls for school lunch prices to rise, which could force out kids from families that are struggling financially but who don’t qualify for free lunches, Ed Bruske writes in his blog The Slow Cook

school lunch 
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will help remove processed, chemical-, fat- and sugar-laden foods from school lunches. Photo By Ben+Sam/Courtesy Flickr. 

As is usually the case, the best way to address the school lunch issue is at the grass roots level. I was horrified when I realized that public schools in Boulder—the very hub of the healthy, organic food movement—serve kids highly processed, chemical-, fat- and sugar-laden food from the same distributor that supplies our prisons. Concerned parents were told it was impossible to change this system because pre-made heat-and-serve meals were delivered and warmed up in kitchens that don’t have proper stoves or cooking utensils.

Three years ago, Boulder parents demanded better—and we’re making it happen. Under the leadership of Boulder Valley School District director of nutrition services and Food, Family, Farming (F3) Foundation founder Ann Cooper, The School Food Project is raising money to build five new regional kitchens where meals are cooked from scratch. The new kitchens will also implement good green practices such as replacing disposable serving items with reusable plates, utensils and trays.

“Boulder is a bellwether community for the nation on so many levels—especially healthy lifestyle,” Cooper says. On this issue, I hope the rest of the nation follows suit. Meantime, you may want to send your kids to school with a BPA-free plastic Yubo lunchbox packed with healthy, nutritious snacks.

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