This year the USDA proposed changes to the school lunch guidelines in our public schools. The idea was to cut back on salt and starchy foods (goodbye french fries or tater tots with every meal) and to lower salt intake and overall caloric consumption. Unfortunately these proposals were recently thrown out in favor of continuing to count pizza as the equivalent of one serving of vegetables due to the tomato paste smeared on the dough underneath a greasy layer of cheese. Also, the definition of “whole -grain” is still up for consideration which means forget about the possibility of at least serving pizza with a whole wheat crust.
In order to combat the limits placed on school lunch programs by the the guidelines of the USDA, we need to continue to look for creative ways to bring a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables into our schools. We need to try to provide or at least introduce our children to vegetables such as broccoli, eggplant, and kale and fruits such as plums, pomegranates, and raspberries in the hopes that the future youth will fight for change in our food systems as they grow older. This is also another argument for petitioning your school to start a garden program or to connect with local farms and the Farm to School Network to bring agents of change into our school lunchrooms. We need to fight for the health of our future.