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by Slow Food USA staffer Gordon Jenkins

School lunch is all over the national newspapers today. In The New York Times, Kim Severson writes about a public school in Queens in New York City with an intrepid school nutrition director who manages to cook most of the school’s food from scratch, despite the challenges she faces under a National School Lunch Program that doesn’t give schools the resources to serve real food. Here’s a quote:

“The principal, Laura Mastrogiovanni, readily admits that food wasn’t on her radar when she took over in 2005. The cafeteria keeps a separate budget and cooks don’t report to her. But when Mrs. Barlatier arrived in 2007 and started to improve the food, it didn’t take long to see that the children not only ate more of it but seemed happier at lunch.
‘They needed a little flair in their food,” Mrs. Mastrogiovanni said. “It’s good for their brains.Ҕ

In today’s Washington Post, Jane Black writes about Revolution Foods, a start-up food service provider that serves healthy, delicious food at 250 schools in California, Colorado and D.C. Most of the companies’ clients are public charter schools and private schools, even though the cost of a lunch from Revolution Foods ($2.90) is not much higher than the amount that Congress gives school cafeterias ($2.68) to prepare school lunch. The article does a great job of laying out the problem with school lunch, plain and simple:

“Here’s what everyone agrees on: Too many kids are fat. The food they get at school, which provides 35 percent of most schoolchildren’s calories, is not nutritious enough and tastes lousy, to boot. And there’s not enough money to change this unwholesome picture. So here’s the question: How much will it cost to fix school lunch?”

And it ends on a hopeful note towards finding a solution, with a quote from Kristin Richmond, co-founder of Revolution Foods:

“We have to be smart as a country and a food system,” Richmond said. “But we [Revolution Foods] are living proof that it can be done.’”

Slow Food USA has joined the effort to fix school lunch with our first-ever national campaign, Time for Lunch. Click here to get involved.