Slow Food USA launched Time For Lunch yesterday, a national campaign to improve school lunches. A national day of action is being held on September 7, when people in communities across America will come together at more than 100 Eat-Ins (a shared meal in a public setting), to draw attention to the need for real, healthy food in the National School Lunch Program.
The National School Lunch Program, which provides free lunches for more than 30 million children, is part of the Child Nutrition Act that Congress will reauthorize later this year. As part of the campaign, Slow Food USA has created a platform outlining specific “asks” for Congress to include in this update.
‘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 byproducts of an industrial food system,’ stated Josh Viertel, president, Slow Food USA. ‘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.’
The Time for Lunch campaign is asking Americans to contact their legislators and tell them to invest in the health of our children by allocating $1 more per day, per child for lunch. Currently, schools are reimbursed $2.57 for each meal served to a student who qualified for free lunch – most of this covers labor, equipment and overhead costs – but less than $1 goes toward actual ingredients.
The campaign also seeks to protect against foods that put children at risk by establishing strong standards for all food sold at school, including food from vending machines and school fast food.
Lastly, the campaign is pushing for the government to provide mandatory funding to teach children healthy eating habits through innovative farm-to-school programs and school gardens.