I hadn’t gotten a chance to share it on TLT, but earlier in the week, fellow school-food blogger Ed Bruske had a rather pessimistic post on the whole issue of school food reform.
He was reporting on a Wash Po poll which showed that 47% of D.C. respondents are opposed to a new program that will feed dinner to 10,000 needy school children in the district. Apart from the poll results, the story was accompanied by some pretty nasty reader comments, many of them racially-tinged.
Ed was clearly dispirited by the whole thing, and concluded his post this way:
Sentiments like these explain perfectly why the U.S. Senate, in approving a re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act that fund school meals, could only find six additional cents to help support the perpetually underfunded school lunch. School food advocates–myself included–who would love nothing better than to see re-heated chicken nuggets and tater tots replaced with fresh food cooked from scratch, need to wise up to the fact that most Americans just don’t care. They grow up in a junk food culture, and do not buy into the idea that children–least of all poor black children–should be eating better than everyone else.
In short, there is no political mandate for spending more money on school food. Maybe it’s time for advocates of better school meals to take stock and adjust their message accordingly.
Both Mrs. Q and I responded to Ed, and you can see the whole exchange here.
I’m not sure that Ed’s pessimism is totally justified — I can see why the thought of “dinner at school” says Nanny State to some people more than lunch, a social benefit to which our society is now accustomed. But then again, I, too, was on the receiving end of similar comments when I had my op-ed in the Houston Chronicle this past August, so maybe I’m being too forgiving of these readers.
At any rate, after Ed’s glass-half-empty post, which has been sort of echoing in my mind these past few days, and after a rather exhausting day yesterday of ranting about, and protesting for, school food reform, I feel thoroughly sick of the whole topic. I imagine maybe you do, too.
Thus I hereby declare October 22, 2010 an Official School-Food-Reform-Free Day on TLT. Let’s talk about kids-and-food topics that are entirely frivolous, shall we? Any thoughts?