The House of Representatives won’t take up the controversial school food waiver issue until next week, but there’s still news to share regarding the fight over healthier school meals:
Former USDA Child Nutrition Director Resigns in Protest from School Nutrition Association
The Hagstrom Report (subscription only) reports that Stan Garnett, former director of child nutrition at the Agriculture Department, “has resigned from the School Nutrition Association over its efforts to encourage members to lobby Congress to pass a bill requiring the USDA to waive healthier school meal requirements to any school that says it has lost money in the program for six months.”
In an email obtained by the Hagstrom Report, Garnett reportedly told SNA’s CEO, Patti Montague:
I was very much offended by the personalized e-blast I received this week from the School Nutrition Association asking me to lobby my congressional delegation to vote for a waiver provision of the new nutritional standards for the school meals programs. . . .
As you know, I have been involved with these programs for many years and worked closely with SNA and other advocacy groups to expand and improve the programs. I felt we were always guided by the words in the Declaration of Policy in the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, “TO SAFEGUARD THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF THE NATION’S CHILDREN.”
Alice Waters: “The Fate of Our Nation Rests on School Lunches”
Pioneering chef, author and sustainable food activist Alice Waters makes an impassioned case in Time magazine not just for staying the course for healthier school food, but thinking bigger about feeding our nation’s children:
The idea of school lunch as an egalitarian mechanism to nourish our nation’s potential has long been discarded and devalued. We are faced with an enormous crisis of health, education and inequality.
We need to have the courage and conviction to establish a nutritious, sustainable, free school-lunch program for all.
The incremental steps the First Lady has fought for, as valuable as they are, are never going to address the challenges we are facing.
More on Universal School Meals
While Waters and others have long advocated for universal (free for all) school meals, a provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is allowing communities with high rates of economically impoverished children to institute just that: meal programs that are free to all students, regardless of family income, with no paperwork required. Matt Bruenig of Slate discusses “community eligibility” here, both its benefits and limitations. And NPR discusses the difficulties New York City potentially faces if it takes advantage of the option.
Losing the Forest for the Trees?
Later this morning, I’ll have a guest post on Corporate Accountability International’s blog which steps back and offers a basic primer on the current school lunch battle: how we got here and where we may be headed. The post isn’t up yet, but when it is I’ll add the link here and share it on the Lunch Tray’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.
[Ed. Update, 6/17/14 3:00pm CST: Post updated to change Patti Montague’s title from “president” to “CEO” and to add the link to my post on Corporate Accountability International’s blog.]
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