On Today's Menu: Healthful School Lunch
School food is on Washington's legislative menu this year as the Childhood Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act wends its way through Congress. The federal government currently forks over $9 billion annually for school breakfast, lunch and other food programs. Not enough for healthful meals, according to some food advocates.
And so the Chicago-based Healthy Schools Campaign is doing what any self-respecting lobbying organization should do. It's bringing good food and cute kids to Washington.
Today six culinary students from the Richards Career Academy in Chicago will join White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass at Martha's Table, where they will cook their idea of a perfect school lunch. On the menu: carrot quesadillas, chicken-stuffed peppers and a "refrescante" (a.k.a. salsa) salad. The meal also will be served to House members and staffers at the Longworth Cafeteria and to 40,000 students at schools across the country.
The students developed the menu as part of a competition last fall. The approximate cost of the ingredients is $1.30 per person. That might not seem like a lot. But when you add the cost of producing and serving the meal, says Healthy Schools Campaign Executive Director Rochelle Davis, the total to make that meal in Chicago is $3.71 -- a dollar more than the government pays for each student meal.
The message: Schools need more money to produce healthful meals.
President Obama has made healthful eating in schools a centerpiece of his domestic agenda. In his budget, he called for $1 billion to improve childhood nutrition programs.
Will Congress fork over the funds? That will ultimately be up to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee. The kids better hope he likes carrot quesadillas.
-- Jane Black
May 5, 2009; 8:02 AM ET
Categories: Food Politics | Tags: Jane Black, nutrition, school lunch
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