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Project Lunch Box: A Can of Worms

Last week when I wrote my Lunch Lady post, I didn’t really know what I was in for. After deciding to begin “Project Lunch Box” and make a hobby out of creating (and sharing) healthy, fun, and environmentally friendly school lunches, I did a little more research on the subject of school lunches in general. And I opened an industrial-refrigerator-sized can of worms.

Brain food. Not.

School lunches are the acid rain of the 2010’s. And rightly so, it seems to me. It’s amazing that something as basic as what we feed over 50 million kids for lunch can be so royally screwed up. But it really is. According to new USDA data, kids who participate in the federal school lunch program are more likely to be overweight than kids who do not. That’s because what most schools are serving for lunch is not food. In addition to rising levels of childhood obesity and type II diabetes, learning and behavior problems are clearly linked to poor diet. This is all widely accepted as fact, and many people who are much more influential than I am (like Michelle Obama, Jamie Oliver, and Alice Waters) are on the case — and yet most school lunch food is still basically highly processed crap that’s full of fat, salt, and empty calories.

If you’re still unconvinced that something needs to be done in a big way about what kids in this country eat, I suggest checking out, the site for a movie about two moms who are really, well, angry about this subject and, hey, are trying to do something about it. Order their DVD, which I bet will make you mad, too.

In the meantime, what can you do? If you’re me, you do some more learning, you join or start a Wellness committee at your school, you get fired up, and…you make lunch. But oh no, what’s this? Another can of worms! Apparently, in the U.S. alone, over 20 million kids’ lunch bags end up in the trash every day. Yipers. So — still trying not to be part of the problem — I’m aiming for zero-waste lunches. But more on that next time!

Next post: Let’s go shopping for cool Bento Boxes and reusable snack bags!

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This post has 6 comments

  • David Wallace says:

    one problem…kids with “Bento Boxes” are 300% more likely to get beat up than other kids

  • Heather Duncan says:

    Snort! David, you crack me up! But seriously, Bevin, this is such a huge problem… I was actually delighted to see a great deal of improvement in the Jeffco school menus this year. A fresh salad as an option EVERY DAY, and fresh veggies and fruits as side dish options. They’ve also started cooking (not reheating) almost every item, and they have whole grain breads. It is not perfect by any means, but soooo much better than the last couple of years. Here’s a link to the Jeffco elementary menu, just for fun:

  • Lynn DeBroder-Owens says:

    Hi Bevin – This is Lynn, Heather’s friend from high school. Let me just say I love your blog! Thanks to Heather for posting it on fb I’m now subscribing so I don’t miss any. 🙂 The kid lunch thing has always been a concern. I try not to pack crap but I always run out of ideas. I’m glad Jeffco offers healthier alternatives this year. When they get to Middle School and High School you can actually see what your kid is buying on-line on the the Meal Pay site. So far so good for my new 7th grader 🙂

  • […] school year is rolling right along, and I am happy to report that Project Lunch Box is still going strong. I can’t claim to be making elaborate eye-candy Bento lunches, but ours […]

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