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Is Ketchup a Vegetable?

The Politics of Food in Our Schools

Publication Date:
6/7/2006
Pages:
0
Session(s)
1
Product Type:
Internet Download
Adult Study, Adult Study
Product Number:
TC0061

Mention school lunches, and most adults conjure up a picture from their own childhoods. We remember lining up at lunchtime to walk down the hallway, enter the cafeteria, get a tray, and push it along as the lunchroom ladies (remember the hairnets?) filled our plates with hot food. Maybe all those food memories aren't entirely pleasant--overcooked carrots and mushy peas did seem to predominate--but by and large our memories are of balanced lunches with meat, vegetables, and milk. The most sugary treats we were likely to have had were ice cream, Jell-O, and chocolate pudding.

As most parents know, this picture of the school cafeteria is a thing of the past. The hot lunch line is still there. But in many schools, particularly at the secondary level, there is an a la carte line that serves fast food such as pizza and french fries. Often these alternatives are run by fast-food franchises. Some kids whose lunch periods do not allow enough time to go through the lunch line and eat too opt for the a la carte choices.

What's going on in the school cafeteria these days? What are kids eating, and what effect is it having on their health? Is ketchup a vegetable, and if not, why should we care? To understand the implications these changes have for the health of our children, we need to take a closer look at the school lunch program.

This study is very accessible and is possible to do in an intergenerational setting. Kids in schools will have plenty of information to share and also see the nutritional concerns expressed by the author. The Leader's Guide offers a role-play that can be done with optional participation.

Martha Bettis-Gee is Associate for Child Advocacy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).


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