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From Slow Food Chicago

The organizations Slow Food Chicago, Green City Market and Common Threads teamed up earlier this month to hand-deliver 65 letters from grade school students to the Chicago office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, asking the Senator to invest in the students’ education and well-being by passing a strong Child Nutrition Bill that help schools serve healthier food. In their letters, students asked for “more broccoli,” “more fruit and healthy food at school,” and nutritious food that “gets you going at recess.”

Congress currently gives schools $2.68 for each lunch served, but with child obesity and health care costs spiraling out of control, that level of funding no longer adds up. As Congress works to update the Child Nutrition Bill next month, the students and the organizations are asking Congress to invest in healthier school lunches.

“All of us understand that this is not just about dollars—it’s about SENSE,” Slow Food Chicago Board Member Amy Cox said. “How can we collectively work together to make sensible changes for the sake of our future generation’s wellness?”

At the meeting, Cox made a salad of Chicago lettuce, Illinois walnuts and tarragon, Michigan apples and Wisconsin cheese to show that local, fresh food can be quick, inexpensive, healthy and delicious. In contrast, she and Sara Gasbarra of Green City Market and Kurt Lewis and Courtney Treutelaar of Common Threads presented photos of typical school-lunch fare, including a burger served with fries and chocolate milk, a box of pizza swimming in cheese, and a rib in a puddle of greasy red sauce.

The meeting was positive and productive, and an exciting starting point for future discussions, Cox said. Senator Durbin’s staff members enjoyed the salad and commented that it was one of the best meetings they’ve had with community members.

To follow Slow Food Chicago’s lead and join the campaign to help schools serve healthier food, check out the Time for Lunch Campaign.

Photo: at Senator Durbin’s Office. Photo credit Kurt Lewis of Common Threads.