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by Gordon Jenkins

The fundamental goal of the National School Lunch Program is to ensure that every student has daily access to a healthy meal, regardless of means. But Campaign for Better Nutrition, the cost of keeping “competitive foods” (on-campus vending machines and school stores) in the lunchroom is undermining that goal.

Typically, school administrators allow vending machines and fast food stores on campus because they generate revenue for under-funded school programs. But Ms. Kavanagh’s report found that many schools are losing revenue on competitive food sales and are borrowing money from the school lunch program in order to offset those losses.

In other words, the cost of keeping Round Table Pizza in the lunchroom is preventing some schools from buying fruits and vegetables.

You can read Ms. Kavanagh’s report here.

Congress plans to renew child nutrition programs in early 2010, and strengthening nutrition standards for competitive foods is on the agenda. It’s also one of the policy goals of Slow Food USA’s Time for Lunch Campaign, which is mobilizing support for helping schools serve real food for lunch.