Food Revolution

Lucy in the sky's picture

I've been thinking a lot about food lately. The the other night I was watching Food Inc and it got me thinking a lot about food, this in addition to having watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution earlier this year.  I'm shocked  and it's gotten me thinking about what I can do, the one thing I keep coming back to is (that as just one person) that maybe the best way to help is to begin by changing the food served in our schools.  Our children deserve healthier food and as a taxpayer I strongly believe this issue is something our government can change. 

it's a huge endeavor but one that I see as doable.  I'm not a chef, a politician, or have big pockets, but I am a tax paying parent who wants to see change.  But consider this: the S.F. Board of Supervisors wants to ban toys from happy meals; wouldn't changes to school food be more necessary and more important?

What do you think? 

DonRoss's picture

School Food

When thinking about the purchasing power of School Districts, it seems that, like on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, it would be easier to purchase good, wholesome, healthy food for our kids, and not the processed food that is tremendously bad and unhealthy.

Schools should lead the way for sure.

gcotter's picture

Children can Learn to like healthy food

Children often reject new foods.  Even infants may reject initial offers of strained baby foods when the taste or texture is new.  But parents, wisely, know that good nutrition means encouraging children to eat a variety of foods.  It isn't much of a leap to realize that schools can and should serve nutritious foods.  Sure, most of the kids will opt for the french fries over the salads, but if we increase the percentage of healthy offerings, and reduce the percentage  and portion size of poor food choices, then kids will gradually learn to accept healthy food.  It won't be over night and may, in fact, take years, but it will happen.

Also, vending machines on school property should not be permitted to carry any unhealthy choices.  And I don't think that even 10% of soda or whatever is acceptable.  The correct number is Zero.  Yes, I know the owners of the vending machines have contracts and the school makes money from the machines, but, again, over years contracts end and schools should not be allowed to have unhealthy snack vended on school property.  One interesting fact is that for years there were few individual serving packaging of healthy foods.  Now you can get single size servings of everything from carrot sticks to yogurt so there is no excuse for including cookies and potato chips.  As for the big corporations, well, Nestles makes cookies and chocolate but they also make Juicy Juice which is 100% juice, so even manufacturers should be able to get on board. 

Another idea: fund a "fruit break" where each child is given an orange, apple, banana, etc. once a day as they go out to recess.  Sure, some will be thrown away, some will be traded, some will be used for food fights.  But, if this is done daily, sooner or later children will learn to like fresh fruits and veggies.  I'd rather see my tax dollars spent on providing free offerings than cafeteria offerings of junk food.

My thoughts on "Happy Meals" are posted on that discussion thread.

Dree's picture

Safe Food, Healthy Kids Initiative

If you care about food health and safety in schools, you should check out the U.S. PIRG's "Safe Food, Healthy Kids" Program. It includes a petition to USDA Secretary Vilsack to demand tougher standards for food served in schools.

At the local level, it seems that SFUSD might be doing better than many districts:

But it's important to note that just because food meets certain nutritional guidelines doesn't mean that it's non-processed, natural, high-quality food products. Processed chicken nuggets might have the same nutritional value as baked chicken, but obviously they're not the same thing. 

Zaquex's picture

Future Film

Just wanted to point out, the wave of support that will follow after Lunch Line, an upcoming film revealing school lunch reform. I can't wait to see this movie since the fact standout.

"The NSLP was first implemented in 1946, when the army reported that many World War II recruits were severely malnourished. At the time, about seven million children came to be covered by the program, and the federally provided subsidy per lunch was about 9¢. Today, over 30 million children participate in the program, and the subsidy has been increased to $2.68."

If only we could feed everybody for $2.68!

Lucy in the sky's picture

Food Revolution

Hey these comments are great and to Zaquex thanks for posting me  about the upcoming documentary I'll keep an eye out for it.  

But, Don Ross has a point about the spending power.  The federal government determines nutritional values and those must be adjusted just as much as the increased subsidy for $2.68 has.  I think it's possible to feed those standing in the lunch line something healthy. 

LZamora30's picture

SFUSD Has a Decent Food Policy

I personally think that the student menu at SFUSD schools are fine compared to the menu choices at schools Jamie Oliver visits. A sample menu can be seen at the above site. At an average of around 700 calories per meal per school day which is around 7 hours, that's 1/3 of the calories that students are supposed to have a day (if they're on the 2000 calorie diet - which is a diet a MODERATELY active child should be on). I think that is actually enough to keep a student energized, and with all of the meals having fruit or whole grains included in them - that is better than any kind of fast food around. Also this year, SFUSD has taken out corn syrup from their chocolate milk. I personally don't think that San Francisco is doing badly on the "food revolution" that people like Jamie Oliver and Food Inc. are trying to point out. I mean, compared to most school districts, our food is golden.

TA's picture

Food Revolution

My response would be is better enough?  With all the medical issues and the ease of eating healthy, what's the issue? That instead of hiring people to put things in the microwave or some big vat at school, we could research and implement other perhaps life long lessons. Premade ready to be heated food is tasteless and lacks very little, if any nutrition.  I find most food to be pretty awful. 

And I agree with gcotter, it takes time to retrain the taste buds to acclimate to great food given the cravings that bio-engineered foods create.  I just say, let's not stop at mediocre.  It's just not good enough when you consider the child's life. I know all the counter arguments, but when both my son's ask for vegetables rather anything else, I give a bit of kudos to staying up until midnight cooking all their food fresh from birth.  Reconditioning those palates, well, I think it's worth it.

The other side to this, is when they go home and are offered chicken fingers, fast food or some other less healthy choice - it reverts back to a more difficult task for the schools. 

My vote is to do better.

Bernadette's picture

Long-term view for taxpayers

If seen from a very long-term perspective, spending a little extra money on healthier food can actually be seen as a major investment for SF, not just in terms of schools but also in terms of healthcare.  If we do not invest in students' health (even in terms of just one meal of theirs each school day-- which actually really adds up if you think about it) now by providing nutritious food, then we will as a whole community have to pay for it in more expensive ways in the future (healthcare costs for those thousands of students!  While it is not completely our responsibility to keep those kids healthy, as a taxpayer, I'd like to make sure that they are at least on the road toward healthy living, so they can take care of themselves rather than having to rely on oxygen tanks, insulin, and any other treatments, which are, of course, added expenses that could be more expenses for taxpayers.

Phil Ting's picture

Yes to healthy food and healthy living

I can remember what we are when we were kids in school.  Pizza, hamburger, fries, chocolate milk and cold cuts.  While I have fond memories of this food, I dont think it was very healthy or very good for me.  We need to teach kids about how important food is to their health and how they can make good tasting healthy choices.  If we get kids eating healthy today, I agree with Bernadette that we dont have to take care of their health in the future.

Ron's picture

Good Info for Kids and Families

The biggest problem is the lack of knowledge about how to truly eat well and why. This continual process of teaching and educating people will be the key.


It would be wonderful if new experiments in urban gardening like the Hayes Valley Farm partnered with local schools for field trips and educational experiences. I wonder if they have curriculum or if someone has created it? I think Alice Water's had it right when she started the Edible Schoolyard, I think we just need to provide more tools for SF schools to take advantage of our burgeoning urban gardening movement.

catherinejanem's picture

Let's not forget the

Let's not forget the importance about educating kids about exercise-Nutrition is only 1/2 the battle when it comes to health-PE can be helpful, but emphasizing a physical lifestyle in the education system can help as well...

Phil Ting's picture

Exercise and Food Together

You're right - we need to do both exercise and food education!   Check our First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign - Let's Move -

A lack of both exercise and food options have caused a huge obesity problem in our country.  If you travel the world, you will realize how overweight we all are.  And it's not about vanity, but really about the long term health problems caused by lack of exercise and a poor diet or sugar and processed foods.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137