Free for All: Fixing School Food in America

Free for All: Fixing School Food in America

Free for All: Fixing School Food in America

Free for All: Fixing School Food in America

Synopsis

How did our children end up eating nachos, pizza, and Tater Tots for lunch? Taking us on an eye-opening journey into the nation's school kitchens, this superbly researched book is the first to provide a comprehensive assessment of school food in the United States. Janet Poppendieck explores the deep politics of food provision from multiple perspectives--history, policy, nutrition, environmental sustainability, taste, and more. How did we get into the absurd situation in which nutritionally regulated meals compete with fast food items and snack foods loaded with sugar, salt, and fat? What is the nutritional profile of the federal meals? How well are they reaching students who need them? Opening a window onto our culture as a whole, Poppendieck reveals the forces--the financial troubles of schools, the commercialization of childhood, the reliance on market models--that are determining how lunch is served. She concludes with a sweeping vision for change: fresh, healthy food for all children as a regular part of their school day.

Excerpt

School meals don’t have a very good reputation. Mention them and many people think of noisy, crowded cafeterias where children wait too long in line, then have too little time to eat. For people of a certain age, they evoke images of dreary, repetitive, unappetizing menus, airline-style entrees, overcooked vegetables, unripe fruit. For those who have been in a school cafeteria more recently, the imagery is apt to be what one critic has called “carnival fare”: corn dogs, french fries, burgers, pizza, offerings high in fat and salt and low in fruits and vegetables, color, flavor, and variety.

It doesn’t have to be that way. In place of industrial kitchens turning out frozen entrees to be defrosted and reheated miles from where they are produced, we can have fresh foods, cooked on site in local kitchens. Instead of low-skill, poorly paid “McJobs” in central kitchens and school cafeterias, we can have meaningful work in which culinary trainees develop marketable skills under the direction of talented chefs. In place of surplus commodities purchased by the federal government to support industrial agriculture and then processed into fast food clones, we can have fresh, local, organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables, dairy and meats, produced by family farmers using humane and sustainable farming practices. In place of lunchrooms virtually segregated by social class, where poor children eligible for free food line up for a federally regulated meal while their more affluent peers purchase Taco Bell or Pizza Hut or Burger King items—or leave the campus altogether—we can have common meals, shared by all in an atmosphere of conviviality. In place of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.