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Food Revolution

April 15, 2010

Recently the pieces of my life seem to be falling into place.  I feel I am confidently heading in the direction I want.  I have decided to focus energy on the world of public policy, especially food policy. My senior project this summer will be to survey all of the schools in the Cleveland Municipal School District and compile a data base of evidence based practices they are using to provide students with healthier food.  There are a lot of good ideas floating around out there about how to improve our schools food system.  However, no one has a good idea of how many ideas are out there, and which ones are working for those small test schools.

This area of interest came from my family’s history of long health problems: diabetes, heart disease, celiac disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It is very important to me that my parents and siblings are eating right. So many of these health problems probably started when they were children. A recent study conducted by the University of North Carolina found high levels of protein-C in three year olds.  This specific protein is a known indicator of heart disease later in life. The idea that even our three year olds are showing propensities towards heart disease should be a wake up to all of us.

The National School Lunch Program is a wonderful piece of legislation that provides breakfast, lunch, and after school snacks to 30.1 million children a day. Many of these children are classified as “food insecure” and benefit from this lunch program without a doubt. The issue is now the quality of the food being served through this program. Many schools no longer “cook” but rather reheat preprocessed foods. Under the Department of Agriculture standards, a french fry counts as a vegetable, and therefore makes it acceptable to serve it with a golden breaded chicken patty and call it a full meal. These standards need to change.

The education in the schools needs to change as well. During an episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution elementary school children we asked to identify certain vegetables and failed. How do we expect children to start to make the right food choices when we won’t give them the information they need to know which decision would be a good one? His website is extremely educational.  I urge anyone who has a second to look at his website and petitions to change school food protocol. I guarantee it is worth the five minutes.  Take this information and spread it through your community, and hopefully we can inform enough people that future family histories won’t look like what mine does now.

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