August 13, 2009

Slow Food USA's Time for Lunch EAT-IN, Time for REAL food in schools!

Okay so most of you who know me well, know that I cook for kids and several times a year do special food functions for the CEO of Seneca Center and Alameda Board of Education representative, Ken Berrick. Ken is a master fund raiser and for the 22 or so years he has headed up Seneca, he has been fighting to make things better for Bay Area kids. The meals are important, because they keep Seneca at the fore front in legislators minds.

One thing is common, among all the people who visit Seneca each and every year. They all say what a good job our staff and administrators do in living and modeling our motto "unconditional care" and they say how great the food is.

I have been with Seneca for eight years. In that time, many changes have happened. But constant is the support that I have gotten in planning, ordering and producing good, clean and fair food for my kids and staff here. I would like to think that other therapeutic agencies and schools are modelling this part of what we have done here at Seneca, but alas....they are not.

Kids in most California public schools and in schools all over the country are treated like bargain trash compactors. The schools sell the USDA mass produced product that they get for free to our kids, and as a result, our kids are the fattest, most lethargic and unhealthiest in recorded history. In my opinion, this is due to several of the most important being the quality of food that they are being offered and served in schools.

It is bad enough in our society that most of us cannot afford our own homes, and have to choose to put good, clean and fair food on the table or put gas in our cars to get to work each day. No matter what challenges we face as adults, our children deserve to have good food in their bellies. Food that will not only nourish their bodies and minds...but their souls!!

Where our food comes from makes a difference! If you have not yet seen the barrage of politics of food and food supply books and movies out recently, I urge you to educate yourself about this issue if you haven’t already. Books like Fast Food Nation and the Omneviores Dilema. Movies like: SuperSize Me, Food Inc, King Corn and mass food production like it is. When a sick and injured cow is herded by a forklift into the slaughter house, alive and knowing what is about to happen...does that fear that rushes into that poor animal's brain also rush cortisol and adrenaline into the meat that we later consume? My opinion is that it does.

Modern day enslavement and abuse of immigrant and low-income American workers, mistreatment of our livestock and animals, diabetes, disease, death. If these costs were exposed to the average person, they would understand clearly that real, healthy, locally- and fairly-produced food is actually much cheaper than fast-food.

The time to act is now. Legislation for The Child Nutrition Act is a federal law that comes up for re-authorization in Congress every four to five years. It governs the National School Lunch Program, which sets the standard for the food that more than 30 million children eat every school day.

In the last few decades, as school budgets have been cut, our nation's schools have struggled to serve children the real food they need.

The deadline for reauthorizing the current Child Nutrition Act is September 2009. Unless we speak up this summer, “business as usual” on Capitol Hill will let Congress pass a Child Nutrition Act that continues to fail our children.

I urge all who read this to sign the petition and "EAT IN" for change this Labor Day. Around this great country of ours, Slow Food conviviums are organising huge community pot lucks to draw attention to this issue. If you really care about our children and believe that they deserve better food and food education in schools, then please click on the link below and sign up to join us in the fight! You will have the opportunity to eat some great food yourselves, get to know your neighbors and local food activists and learn what you can do to help.

Alice Waters says it best. "Good, clean and fair food is your a human being". Let's work with her and Michelle Obama to make we don't let our kids health slip through the cracks and good nutrition in schools is a great place to start!

No comments: