Category Archives: From The Newsletter

Happy National School Lunch Month!

Apple-Candle

Did you know that Octo­ber is National School Lunch Month? It’s our favorite time of the year! We see it as a time for thought­ful exam­i­na­tion of a sys­tem that has not always been per­fect, but nonethe­less remains an impor­tant part of every child’s day. Because the meal a child eats in school accounts for almost half of his daily food intake, we hope you will cel­e­brate National School Lunch Month with us as we con­tinue our relent­less efforts to pro­vide chil­dren every­where with the health­i­est food possible.

You may want to ask your school if there are any spe­cial activ­i­ties planned this month to cel­e­brate the focus on nutri­tious eat­ing at school.

Since 1946, when Pres­i­dent Tru­man signed the School Lunch Act, the pur­pose of the school meal has been to pro­vide, “a mea­sure of national secu­rity, to safe­guard the health and well-being of the Nation’s chil­dren and to encour­age the domes­tic con­sump­tion of nutri­tious agri­cul­tural com­modi­ties.” Sadly, today, it seems not much is being done to safe­guard children’s health in many of our schools. In fact, schools are flooded with processed foods and a lack of fresh choices for stu­dents. Con­ces­sion stands now have a strong pres­ence in an alarm­ing num­ber of cafe­te­rias across the coun­try, putting fundraiser money and sell­ing junk food above stu­dent health. Many pri­vate schools lack lunch pro­grams alto­gether, adopt­ing to brown bag it or order take­out from local fast food chains. When in our country’s his­tory did it become okay to serve kids fast food for lunch every day?

 

As influ­en­tial fig­ures like First Lady Michelle Obama and Chefs Jamie Oliver and Ann Cop­per begin to spread their mes­sages, advo­cat­ing healthy eat­ing habits for chil­dren, we are start­ing to see a national grow­ing inter­est in the impor­tance of the school meal. Like these influ­en­tial lead­ers, we are also at the fore­front of the move­ment to edu­cate our future gen­er­a­tion about the joys and impor­tance of a healthy meal and by all accounts, the mes­sage is being heard loud and clear. Heck, we even have a whole month ded­i­cated to the cause….Happy National School Lunch Month everybody!

 

In cel­e­bra­tion of National School Lunch Month this Octo­ber, here is a brief time­line of school lunch in the United States.

  • 1853: The Children’s Aid Soci­ety of New York ini­ti­ates a lunch pro­gram that serves voca­tional school students
  • 1904: Poverty, by Robert Hunter is pub­lished. The book influ­ences the cre­ation of many lunch pro­grams across the US aimed to feed the needy chil­dren in schools.
  • 1908: The Women’s Edu­ca­tional and Indus­trial Union in Boston, Ma. begins serv­ing hot lunches in high schools. Food was cooked in a cen­tral kitchen and trans­ported to par­tic­i­pat­ing schools. The pro­gram expanded into the ele­men­tary schools dur­ing the next two years.
  • 1946: Con­gress intro­duces leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate a per­ma­nent lunch pro­gram. Prior to this, lunch pro­grams oper­ated on a year-by-year basis and food served revolved on agri­cul­tural sur­pluses. Lunches must now meet a min­i­mal nutri­tional requirements.
  • 1966: The Child Nutri­tion Act was intro­duced. With more than a cen­tury of school lunch expe­ri­ence, this piece of leg­is­la­tion aimed to pro­vide stricter nutri­tional guidelines.

Present day: Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act is passed with the goal of improv­ing school lunches across the nation. Junk food is elim­i­nated, while whole grains, fresh fruits and veg­gies, and low fat dairy prod­ucts are increased.

Click here for fun things to do with your kids on National School Lunch Day

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The Movement is Growing: Thanks to You!

blog-wtcountryThanks to car­ing par­ents and schools across the coun­try, The Move­ment for bet­ter, health­ier school lunch is grow­ing by leaps and bounds! Looks like the word is out! We have received hun­dreds of requests from pas­sion­ate entre­pre­neurs who want to bring our healthy school solu­tion to their com­mu­ni­ties. We are thrilled to announce that so far this year, we have added a total of eleven new locations:

  • 4 in Col­orado: Col­orado Springs and Denver
  • 1 in Florida: Ft. Lauderdale
  • 1 in Geor­gia: Augusta
  • 1 in Idaho: Boise
  • 1 in Min­nesota: Minneapolis
  • 1 in Penn­syl­va­nia: York
  • 2 in Texas: Austin and Houston

We are hum­bled by all the inter­est and excite­ment brew­ing across Amer­ica, and look for­ward to expand­ing The Move­ment to many more loca­tions later this year! If you know of a school or city that is ready to make stu­dent health a pri­or­ity, please just let us know. We will reach out to them and get the process started. School lunch was never like this!

Earth

A Healthy Planet Starts at Home

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A healthy planet is essen­tial for a healthy com­mu­nity. No mat­ter where you live, con­serv­ing our nat­ural resources means secur­ing a sus­tain­able food future for future gen­er­a­tions. What can you do to help pro­mote the health of mother earth?  Sur­pris­ingly, some of the most pow­er­ful state­ments begin in the kitchen with the food we choose to feed our families.

Eat Slow Food

It seems almost coun­ter­in­tu­itive that we must have a move­ment ded­i­cated to “slow food”, con­sid­er­ing that no more than 2 gen­er­a­tions ago “slow food” (pure food pro­duced within local com­mu­ni­ties) was all we ate. Fast for­ward to present day Amer­ica and the golden arches have become a ubiq­ui­tous sym­bol of America’s food priorities.

The Slow Food move­ment was estab­lished in 1989 to counter the grow­ing fast food cul­ture.  A non-profit orga­ni­za­tion was formed to encour­age com­mu­ni­ties to buy locally grown foods, make smarter food choices, and eat sea­son­ably.  It has also lob­bied for health­ier school lunches in var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties in the USA….HOORAY! Slow Food chap­ters through­out the world have helped pro­tect crop bio­di­ver­sity, edu­cate the pub­lic about food, and have assisted in cre­at­ing net­works through which food pro­duc­ers can sell their prod­ucts to consumers.

Get involved and learn more at:  slowfoodusa.org.

Go Meat­less on Mondays

Another pop­u­lar health-focused ini­tia­tive that has emerged is Meat­less Mon­days (meatlessmonday.com). Meat­less Mon­days are noth­ing new — dur­ing both world wars, Pres­i­dents Wil­son, Tru­man, and Roo­sevelt, asked Amer­i­cans to cut back on meat once a week due to meat short­ages in an effort to feed troops overseas.

Today, that same request is being made of Amer­i­cans.  This time how­ever, the war is very dif­fer­ent.  It is a war we are fight­ing against our­selves — the war against obe­sity and for longer, health­ier lives.  Cut­ting back on meat reduces our risk of heart dis­ease and high cho­les­terol.  It also reduces our car­bon foot­print and reduces car­bon emissions.

Meat­less Mon­days have inspired Amer­i­can fam­i­lies to cook from scratch, to use only fresh and sea­sonal ingre­di­ents, and to reduce our meat con­sump­tion.  If you are look­ing for recipe ideas for your fam­ily, check out thekidscookmonday.org — a Meat­less Mon­day Move­ment that pro­vides easy and fun recipes fam­i­lies can pre­pare together.

We at WT Café are com­mit­ted to help­ing you and your fam­ily live a health­ier life.  That’s why we pre­pare and serve your chil­dren only the fresh­est, purest, from scratch meals avail­able.  When you order from us, you can trust that your food was pre­pared by local chefs who value the del­i­cate rela­tion­ship between our envi­ron­ment, our food, and our bodies.

Pro­tect Mother Earth

There are more things that you can do as a fam­ily to take care of Earth.  For exam­ple, sav­ing eggshells, cof­fee grounds, and pecan shells and toss­ing them into a plant con­tainer with pot­ting soil can add nour­ish­ing nutri­ents to the soil that can later be used to plant sum­mer toma­toes and other veg­gies!  Recy­cling plas­tic con­tain­ers and milk/egg car­tons and reusing gro­cery bags are a few other small things that will instill a sense of duty and pride for the planet in your children.

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Fast Food Increases Health Risks

The evi­dence against our country’s con­ve­nient yet nutri­tion­ally infe­rior food cul­ture keeps mount­ing.  Just this week a new study was released show­ing a link between fast food con­sump­tion and asthma and eczema in chil­dren and teens.  Kids din­ing on fast food 3 or more times a week had an over 30% higher risk of devel­op­ing com­mon health woes such as asthma, eczema, and hay fever com­pared to their healthy-eating classmates.

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Unless fast foods are already on your “No-No” list, you need to add them.  It’s bad enough that fast food con­sump­tion is directly related to obe­sity risk, but now we know that those same foods also affect our children’s health in other detri­men­tal ways.  Most fast foods are chem­i­cally pre­served, high in sat­u­rated fats, and nutri­tion­ally sus­pect.  The only true ben­e­fit of eat­ing fast food is con­ve­nience.  But does con­ve­nience trump the health of our chil­dren?  As con­sci­en­tious par­ents, we should not be feed­ing fast food to our children.

So what do we do? 

Par­ents today are strapped for time and need con­ve­nient food options.  Unfor­tu­nately, there are not a lot of fresh and healthy choices avail­able out­side of the home today.  Although this trend is chang­ing, your best bet in today’s food envi­ron­ment is to eat at home as often as you pos­si­bly can (unless, of course, you are eat­ing at WT Café!).


A new study released just 2 months ago rein­forces that eat­ing at home is the health­ier option for today’s fam­i­lies.   Researchers at the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois at Chicago found that kids and teens who eat out (at quick ser­vice, sit down, or fast food) con­sume an aver­age of 300 addi­tional calo­ries per meal.   Fast food is an excep­tion­ally infe­rior choice com­pared to a home cooked meal, as it leads to over-consumption of the fol­low­ing vs. daily rec­om­mended values:

  • 22% more fat
  • 25%  more sat­u­rated fat
  • 17% more sodium
  • 13% more sugar

Kids are impres­sion­able.  They know from what we teach.  They watch our actions and mir­ror our behav­iors.  Let’s show them how to make healthy choices so they get the most years out of their life, and the most life out of their years.

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Join the Movement!

Help­ing schools and par­ents take a lead­er­ship role in improv­ing kids’ health is what Whole­some Tum­mies is all about.  Since start­ing the com­pany in 2007 we have led the charge for healthy school lunches and now serve over 100 schools across the coun­try, thanks to the sup­port of our amaz­ing customers.

But school lunch is just the tip of the iceberg.

Lunch is only one meal out of 3 daily, not to men­tion all the snacks con­sumed in between.   To truly win this bat­tle against child­hood obe­sity we need to look at ALL foods acces­si­ble to our chil­dren, and ensure supe­rior lev­els of nutri­tion across the board.

Inside the home, par­ents are in con­trol of food sources and can eas­ily elim­i­nate empty calo­rie foods from their child’s menu.  At school, how­ever, we lose that con­trol.  Although order­ing from WT Café assures that your child receives a fresh and nutri­tious lunch, your school may still unwit­tingly pro­vide easy access to unhealthy fare – and send con­fus­ing, mixed mes­sages as a result.

By fill­ing vend­ing machines with junk food, reward­ing good class­room behav­ior with candy, or order­ing fast foods for school events, your school is send­ing neg­a­tive food influ­ences to your child — un-doing all the hard work you’ve put in to instill healthy habits at home.   Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all on the same page?

That’s why in 2013, Whole­some Tum­mies and WT Café are kick­ing it up a notch!

For us, this year is about more than lunch….It’s about a Move­ment.  A move­ment to pro­vide schools and par­ents with access to fresh, from-scratch foods in ALL aspects of the school’s food pro­gram.   A move­ment to make a real and last­ing change to our children’s health and well-being.  The move­ment starts with the intro­duc­tion of some excit­ing new pro­grams inside the school and the home:

School — By offer­ing fresh food choices at cater­ing school events and meet­ings, vend­ing machines and school stores, ath­letic events, and class­room birth­day cel­e­bra­tions, WT Café can help schools main­tain a con­sis­tent com­mit­ment to stu­dent health through­out the school day.

Home – By offer­ing nutri­tious and con­ve­nient fam­ily meals from our rotat­ing sea­sonal menu, WT Cafe will pro­vide busy par­ents with a great way to main­tain a con­sis­tent com­mit­ment to fam­ily health.

If you desire fur­ther improve­ments in the over­all food pro­gram at your child’s school, please let us know today!  We will work together with your school to solid­ify their com­mit­ment to the health of your chil­dren.  By role mod­el­ing the right behav­iors and pro­vid­ing the right foods, your school can fur­ther their edu­ca­tion mis­sion and take another bold step in fight­ing our country’s health cri­sis.   Now that’s how to cre­ate last­ing change.

Join the Movement!

The Four Food Groups

10 Commandments of Raising Healthy Eaters

As with any­thing in the roller coaster ride of par­ent­ing, so much of shap­ing our children’s behav­ior is all in the deliv­ery.  How we as par­ents deliver a mes­sage to our kids is the dif­fer­ence between real behav­ioral change and bla­tant disregard.

When our sweet, lit­tle, do-no-wrong chil­dren exer­cise their inde­pen­dence by sud­denly reject­ing a food they used to love, it feels like an act of war.  It’s insanely aggra­vat­ing as a par­ent when this hap­pens, as there is usu­ally no rhyme or rea­son to the sud­den boy­cott.  Yet here we are – deal­ing with the picky eat­ing aftermath.

It is in these very moments that we are defined as par­ents.  As long as they are under our roofs, their agenda is our agenda, and we must insist they fol­low our lead­er­ship.  To help you in these moments of parental truth, we have cre­ated the 10 Com­mand­ments of Rais­ing Healthy Eaters.  Thou Shalt NOT:

1.)  Bribe

Eat­ing a healthy diet is a bare min­i­mum expec­ta­tion we as par­ents should have for our chil­dren.  As such, con­sum­ing fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles should not require rewards or incen­tives or any kind.   It should just be expected.  Think of eat­ing well as you think of home­work – it’s some­thing they sim­ply must do.  Chil­dren should not get rewarded for doing some­thing that’s expected.  Life just doesn’t work that way.

2.) Pun­ish

A guar­an­teed way to give your child a dys­func­tional rela­tion­ship with food is to pun­ish them for not eat­ing some­thing.  It’s a good rule of thumb to not dis­ci­pline or spank your child for not eat­ing in a man­ner you approve.  We rec­om­mend rein­forc­ing the desir­able behav­ior with pos­i­tive rewards rather than pun­ish­ing the unde­sir­able behavior.

3.) Force Feed

Force-feeding a child is one of the worst things you can do for two rea­sons.  First, it cre­ates a neg­a­tive asso­ci­a­tion with food.  Sec­ond, it will never result in last­ing change.  Selec­tive eat­ing is one of the last bas­tions of con­trol that chil­dren have against parental rule and by refus­ing to eat cer­tain foods they are exert­ing that con­trol.  Test­ing bound­aries and exert­ing inde­pen­dence is a part of their nat­ural devel­op­ment and self-discovery.  Your task is to stay calm and not bring any atten­tion to their poor eat­ing deci­sions.  Ignor­ing unde­sir­able behav­ior is ten times more effec­tive than forc­ing desired behav­ior against their will.

4.) With­hold Love

We are a big believer in uncon­di­tional love.  Even if your child does some­thing that doesn’t please you, never with­hold your love from them.  There is a big dif­fer­ence between the deed and the doer, and it is crit­i­cal to a child’s socio-emotional devel­op­ment that they feel your love for them is uncon­di­tional.  You may not love WHAT they did or didn’t do (the deed), but you still love THEM (the doer).

5.) Be Stingy with Praise

Pos­i­tive feed­back and rein­force­ment is one of the most pow­er­ful ways we can shape our children’s behav­ior.  That means going over­board with com­pli­ments and atten­tion when our chil­dren demon­strate a desired behav­ior.   Each and every time your child does some­thing that pleases you or makes you proud (and that you want to see them do more often), you should gen­er­ously praise what they did (the DEED) and then praise it some more.   “I’m so proud of you for eat­ing your broc­coli today at lunch!  You’re going to be so strong/healthy/smart if you keep eat­ing like that.”

6.) Give Up

Turn­ing a picky eater around is never an easy task.  Kids can demon­strate an unwa­ver­ing per­sis­tence that leaves you frus­trated and exhausted.  Why do they refuse to coop­er­ate?   Because some­where along the way, they real­ized what they need to do to win.  As par­ents we must believe that cre­at­ing healthy eat­ing habits is wor­thy of our atten­tion, our ener­gies, and our will power.  It may feel like mov­ing a moun­tain, but with repeated bouts of per­sis­tence you WILL be vic­to­ri­ous.  Your child will thank you when she lives to be a centenarian!

7.) For­get to Have Fun

Part of build­ing excite­ment in our chil­dren about any­thing we want them to appre­ci­ate is mak­ing it a unique and spe­cial expe­ri­ence for them.  A spe­cial treat.  Some­thing mem­o­rable that gives them a strong sense of belong­ing with a group of peo­ple who uncon­di­tion­ally love and adore them.   The strongest rela­tion­ships with food are formed when accom­pa­nied by warm, lov­ing, and happy moments.

8.) Talk Neg­a­tively About any Food

We as par­ents are the biggest influ­ence on our young children’s life.  Our kids lis­ten to what we say and watch how we act.  The moment your child hears you say, “I don’t like toma­toes” or “I can’t stand mush­rooms” or “Yuk, that melon is slimy” is the moment they hear that it’s ok to have food aver­sions.  In their minds, this one event gives them the green light they need to boy­cott food.  As par­ents, we need to keep our food aver­sions to our­selves so we don’t pass along our biases to our chil­dren and, more impor­tantly, we don’t inad­ver­tently give them license to complain.

9.) Let Your Child Be the Boss of You

You are in the driver’s seat, not your child.  When we give in to our children’s demands, the seat of power trans­fers from you to them.  If you do let this hap­pen, good luck get­ting it back!  Keep con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion and you will retain the power in your rela­tion­ship with your kids…..at least until the teenage years, anyway!

10.) For­get to Prac­tice What You Preach

With chil­dren as with most humans, they learn more from what you DO than what you SAY.  Be care­ful that you are not say­ing one thing and doing another when it comes to food.  Your kids will notice the dis­crep­ancy imme­di­ately and call you out on it.  You are much bet­ter off being hon­est from the get go about your eat­ing habits but encour­ag­ing (always encour­ag­ing) your child to be the best eater they can be.  We all know the list of rea­sons to eat well is long and compelling!

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3 Key Improvements to School Lunch

Given all the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and rebel­lion towards the new USDA guide­lines, we wanted to share our thoughts.

First, we are pleased to see more fruits, veg­gies, and whole grains on school lunch menus.  These changes sig­nify progress, and bring more aware­ness and atten­tion to healthy eat­ing.  This is good.

How­ever, we see many oppor­tu­ni­ties for improve­ment, including:

Improve­ment #1 – Rec­og­nize No Size Fits All

One prob­lem we have with the new guide­lines is that they put chil­dren of cer­tain grades into a sin­gle por­tion size bucket.  Any par­ent will tell you that sim­ply won’t work.  My 4 year old some­times eats as much as my 11 year old, depend­ing on the day.  It varies based on where they are in their devel­op­ment, activ­ity lev­els, metab­o­lism, and also how big and how recent their last meal was.  Their appetite varies from day to day, as do their nutri­tional needs.

School lunch should pro­vide for flex­i­bil­ity in appetite, regard­less of grade.  The max­i­mum calo­rie, pro­tein, grains, and pro­duce restric­tions per grade should be dropped.

It’s ironic that the national school lunch pro­gram – which was founded to relieve hunger dur­ing the great depres­sion and there­fore founded on calo­rie min­i­mums – has now swung the pen­du­lum in the oppo­site direc­tion.  With the new guide­lines, our national school lunches are now based on calo­rie max­i­mums.  Fifty years ago, we designed school lunch so chil­dren didn’t starve, and now we’ve designed it so chil­dren don’t become fat.   It’s clear that nei­ther extreme works – per­haps the answer is some­where in the middle?

What if we could start from scratch?   Take a blank can­vas and com­pletely redesign school lunch.  What would it look like to you?

The major­ity of par­ents that we’ve talked to say they want their chil­dren to eat a whole­some meal that sus­tains them through­out the school day.  They would say the most impor­tant thing to them about school lunch is that their child has enough food energy so he can focus, absorb, and retain what he is being taught.  If the lunch hap­pens to be healthy, too, well that’s a bonus.

With­out those basic min­i­mum require­ments in place, even the best-intended lunch pro­gram will inevitably fail.  It’s not nutri­tion unless they eat it!

Improve­ment #2 – Cook From Scratch

Like the rest of our nation’s food sup­ply, school lunch in this coun­try has sadly become a sci­ence exper­i­ment.  What is often avail­able on the lunch line is not what many of us would con­sider REAL FOOD.  When we start over-analyzing the sci­ence of food – # calo­ries, # fat grams, # grams pro­tein, # mil­ligrams sodium – all we do is give food sci­en­tists unde­served job security.

What hap­pened to the joy of pure, sim­ple food?

Just because a bag of Chee­tos has a reduced sodium con­tent that took 6 food sci­en­tists 8 months in a lab­o­ra­tory to fig­ure out how to achieve, does not mean it is some­thing we should feed out chil­dren.   It was Hip­pocrates who said “Food is Med­i­cine.” but we have re-engineered and chem­i­cally manip­u­lated food to such extent that it seems “Food is Sci­ence” is more accu­rate.  Some­where along the way, we over-complicated food, and the dis­heart­en­ing real­iza­tion for us all is that our chil­dren are pay­ing the price.

The right solu­tion – the ONLY solu­tion — is to get back to basics.

We must do in school kitchens what every culi­nary school in Amer­ica does – teach how to cook food from scratch.  Teach how to com­bine pure, raw, in-season ingre­di­ents with herbs and spices.  Teach how to saute, roast, bake and steam using a good old-fashioned stove NOT a microwave or hot box.

Pre­pared in this man­ner, food has all the vit­a­mins and nutri­tion our chil­dren need to grow and learn.  Pre­pared in this man­ner, we wouldn’t need to count sodium grams or uni­ver­sally restrict calo­rie counts.  So all that money spent ana­lyz­ing the sci­ence of food could instead be spent on devel­op­ing fun and nutri­tious recipes, teach­ing cook­ing skills so chil­dren can be self-sufficient, grow­ing school gar­dens that recon­nect kids with the ori­gin of food, and get­ting back to the basics of feed­ing our kids REAL FOOD.

Whether at school or at home, isn’t that how our chil­dren deserve to eat?

Improve­ment #3 – Include More Stakeholders

Any expert on change man­age­ment will tell you how impor­tant it is to involve all stake­hold­ers in a suc­cess­ful change effort.  The more stake­hold­ers directly involved in the change, the greater its chance for success.

In terms of school lunch, the stake­hold­ers include par­ents and kids, as well as teach­ers and schools, farm­ers and sup­pli­ers, non-profits, and our gov­ern­ment.  The answer to a suc­cess­ful school lunch over­haul must involve these key con­stituents.  We would love to see more high-involvement activ­i­ties incor­po­rated into school lunch, such as:

  • cook­ing classes taught in the school kitchen
  • green thumb clubs to start up and main­tain school gardens
  • food clubs to source and plan menus
  • nutri­tion edu­ca­tion to teach kids about how foods make them feel
  • farm to school pro­grams that teach the sea­son­al­ity of food

Chang­ing school lunch is a multi-faceted, com­pre­hen­sive effort, involv­ing much more than food on trays.  It requires a sys­temic change to the food envi­ron­ment, food influ­ences, and food knowl­edge that exists in every child’s daily life. It’s time to stop nar­rowly obsess­ing about the sci­ence of the plate and instead start look­ing broadly at the big­ger issue – our food environment.

To put all of this con­tro­versy in per­spec­tive, school lunch is only 20% of a child’s weekly total food intake.   It’s only 5 meals a week out of a total of 21 meals (3 meals/day X 7 days/week = 21 meals/week).   Rather than spend­ing all this time, money, and energy on school lunch reg­u­la­tions, per­haps we should focus instead on two things:

1)     increas­ing ACCESS to fresh fruits, veg­eta­bles, and real food, and

2)     pro­vid­ing the EDUCATION needed to cre­ate last­ing change

Elim­i­nat­ing child­hood obe­sity and restor­ing our children’s health is going to take a vil­lage.  School lunch may be the place to start, but it’s only the beginning.