What You Can Do About School Food

by Dr. Susan Rubin

The struggle to improve school food was a lonely one until now. For many years, concerned parents felt marginalized when they took a public stand against the excessive amounts of sugar and processed foods that are served in schools. Now that the rest of the population has caught up to this issue, the conversation has changed. Discussions around healthcare reform now routinely include addressing our nation’s consumption of food, and especially school food, to help reduce our skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Josh Viertel is a Westchester County native and the president of Slow Food USA. He says that the way we feed our kids is a reflection of our values. “We cannot, in good conscience, continue to make our kids sick by feeding them cheap by-products of an industrial food system,” Viertel says. “It is time to give kids real food—food that tastes good, is good for them, is good for the people who grow and prepare it, and is good for the planet.”

Slow Food USA has launched an innovative plan to raise the bar on school lunches. Their campaign, called Time for Lunch, includes 3 action steps.

1. Sign the Time for Lunch petition online at slowfoodusa.org/timeforlunch and pass it on to your friends and fellow eaters.

2. Contact your legislators by phone or letter. Telling your legislators what’s important to you is one of the most powerful ways you can participate in our democracy.

3. Organize an Eat In and participate in a national day of Action on Labor Day, September 7, 2009.

An Eat In is a combination of peaceful protest and pot-luck that sends a powerful message to local school boards and federal legislators that school food is important to our nation’s health. The national Eat-In on September 7 will tell Congress that it’s time to provide America’s children with real food at school.

Eat Ins are starting to spring up all over Westchester and Rockland counties. For more information on these issues and actions, visit slowfoodusa.org/timeforlunch.

Dr. Susan Rubin is a dentist, holistic nutritionist, mother, and 20-year Chappaqua resident. Susan has been involved with school food advocacy in Westchester and on a national level for over a decade. For more information about her work with school food programs, visit betterschoolfood.org.

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