tv The Stream Al Jazeera December 2, 2013 12:30pm-1:01pm EST
middle school i ate exclusively pizza, french fries and cookies for school lump. it was awesome. i don't know if he's being sarcastic . another viewer, our son attends a technical high school. there is a culinary program. the food served there is best than most food in the country and most people don't have that. >> yes, one staffer said that he could opt for whole plate of french fries for lunch. >> we want to serve great food, but we want to serve great food that they're eating because they know academics success is tied in to the nutritional choices as wha
the choices we make every day. >> the school lunch program is the country's second largest foot an food nutrition program. they creased the availability of fruits, vegetables whole grains while reducing sodium and certain fats. some schools are turning to salad bars and chefs for the new meals. it cost $13 billion a year and some question the influence the industry after learning like items like pizza sauce counts s a vegetable. some schools dropped the program stating that students tossed the healthy options right into the trash cans.
how could we have quality meals. let's go to julie, works with the independent women's forum and author of the new book" from cupcakes to chemicals" and michelle sigh men, president of eat, drink politics. she focuses on the food industry and food politics. and jean, her organization speaks on behalf of the organization that runs the food programs. just to get started we wanted to give a few visuals. check out these pictures. they've come in from our viewers all across the country. she's are some of the meals served to the kids in the last few days. i don't even know what that is. these are well balanced and healthy.
michelle first of all yes or not. was that an accurate snapshot. >> i think there is misperceptions. it's not that we've changed the school programs overnight. what they have done is pit down a nutrition guideline to be offered to kids. there are still a lot of challenges and there's a long way to go. >> the lunch program probably started with good intentions and healthy than what we saw. how did we get to a point where cheese bites qualify as a nutritional lunch. there is nothing particular about school food that is unique. it's our food system in general puts profit ahead of health. that means all of the wrong kinds of foods, the heavily
processed, are what is most available. healthier foods are not available. school food is a reflection of that. >> what does that involve, trying to change what kids are eating in school. >> the trigger for me, the cheese quesadilla . not everything is bad in that because they have to add vitamins to meet the guidelines but there is too much stuff in there, and that's what got me hooked. >> what was the reaction from school officials when you began to engage them. >> there is so much involve. it's not easy, there was certainly a lot of conversation about the things that the schools are doing right. meeting those guidelines. that's when they said that the
guidelines don't go far enough. even after 15 years they made changes to that, and it just doesn't go far enough. we need--kids don't know about the fresh foods and any more. >> neil said tuna fish hot dogs back in the days to acome late catholics who only ate fish on fridays. good nutrition equals good grates. the consequences of poor any nutrition are poor behavioral and academy outcomes. the center for science interest regards the lead lobbyist force
for healthy food spent $70,000. $47 million versus $70,000. what are the lobbying efforts on behalf of our children's meals. >> i would like to talk about what happens at the government level when the meal pattern is developed, the food pyramid and those kinds of things are established. but what i can talk to you about is what happens in the school cafeteria. we have made significant changes. i've been a school food service director for over 20 years and i've seen the changes that has happened to our food programs. theres "s" nothinthere is nothid but that we've made great strides. food lobbyists are going to be here. they're going stay around.
they are in it to make money. that's the reality. we, however, don't want that to happen on the backs of our children, and we're very concerned that the food that we serve our children is healthy. >> michelle, pick up on that. the booe food and beverage industry doubled. what kind of influence do you get. >> you have pizza as a vegetable. let's look at what happens when th they're trying to do their job, congress steps in at the behest of the frozen food institute. there is a lobby for frozen food. and that's how we go pizza to be a vegetable, pizza sauce, particularly. congress did an end run around the regulatory process. that's where those millions of
dollars came into play. the lobbyists call their friends up in congress to thwart this industry that was trying to put science around coo schools meal. >> there have been reform attempts in the past. how did they fail? >> yes, the government is influenced and the usda is influenced by big food. we'll call it big food. but that's the precise reason why we should reduce usda influence and control over what kids are eating. we need to return this to the state and frankly to the local school district who have a better sense of the need of the children in the school and a better sense of the regional tastes of the kids. i mean, the usda comes up with lists of approved fruits and vegetables. they get really into the detai details. kids can't have more than a cup of peas a peak.
it's up sord that someone is coming up with these rules when we should be trusting local school officials and local lunch ladies, there might be lunch men out there, but i think we should be trusting people on the local level rather than strengthening and increasing the power of the usd. >> power to the lunch lady. i want to get some tweets in here. >> we're going talk more about that in a minute. listen up mom and dad, playing with your food may have benefits. we'll talk about the innovative approaches to teach kids about nutrition . waj will share your comments
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agree to anything in washington no matter what. >> antonio mora, award winning and hard hitting. >> we've heard you talk about the history of suicide in your family. >> there's no status quo, just the bottom line. >> but, what about buying shares in a professional athlete? >> a program that connects us to where our food comes from. by serving healthy locally grown meals and giving us hands on education opportunities that helps make lasting changes in the school's food environment. >> welcome back. what you're looking at is a video from the national farm to school network. the organization estimates more than 10,000 schools across the country participate in the program. it's one of several innovative ideas that school systems are using to get kids excited about healthy eating. waj, i'm looking at the tweets coming in, and just before the
break, julie was saying give control back to the lunch lady. this needs to go back and go local. >> yes, we should make the #empower the lunch lady go survival. viral. >> jean, waj raise as interesting point. when i was in school, the lunch ladies pretty much prepared everything from scratch on site on the premise. now there is heat and serve. why the flip? >> years ago there were considerable cuts to our program. that moved people away from scratch cooking.
you're seeing more school districts going to scratch cooking. a lot of that is driven by the regulations to reduce sodium, to reduce fat, to get fruits and vegetables incorporated in the programs. we're moving back towards scratch cooking, i wouldn't say it's 100% everywhere, but there is a great balance you can get to, and more districts are finding that way. minneapolis is one that is moving from that traditional pre-packed meal and retrofitting their schools to get to that place where they can do the scratch cooking. it takes a lot of money. it takes a lot of trained staff, but they're doing it. >> where do you see this working? >> we are in a school system that is heat and serve. we have the big budget issue, so we have a pilot kitchen going on in a high school with a cafe bar.
large salad bar, fresh sandwiches, soups, getting away from the processed food, and the kid like the change. another thing we love is getting the kids involved. we have culinary programs where kids are coming up with different ideas for lunch. get them involved with marketing ideas to make the cafeteria appealing, nice ambiance. we have a song that kids made about fresh food, a rap song because. >> rapping about kale. >> rapping about it. >> only in the 21st century can you rap about kale. what you say is great. but what about kids in inner city neighborhoods. if you live in an economically depressed area the lunches are margin al marginal , some kid cannot
afford. parents were willing to pay more but the district discouraged the process to eliminate the big food vendors to allow the smaller farm vin de vendor in. talk to us about how this has translated into real life management for families who can't afford it? >> i'm really glad you brought that up. that's what i wanted to say in response to this idea that we should empower the local and state agencies or the state school district at the local level. if we left it up to just the local schools we wouldn't have a federal system that helps with low-income families for whom the school meal whether its breakfast, lunch or boas both, e best nutrition a child could get that day. congress is proposing
unbelievably deep cuts to the food stamps, now known as snap, half of whom represent children. half of the recipients of snap are children. it will be cut, the question is to what extent. the school meals now become more important. what does the federal government have in insuring that this subsidize program, and we definitely need to have meals subsidized for these kids. there is plenty of flexibility for local schools to ingain in things like the salad bars. >> how challenging is it for schools to innovate when they don't have a lot of money. >> we do receive federal funding for free and reduced price meals. in st. paul we have kids that are eligible, but that has not stopped us from engaging with
our kids and our community. you'll find that to be the case across the country. we engage our kids all the time, the fruit and vegetable program, fresh fruit, the farm to school program. we have bison, wild rife, flaxseed, and fresh chicken. doing a lot of things that many districts are. i think if you were to walk into a school cafeteria, not all of them, but many of them today you're going to see the impact that the regulatio regulations . that has not come at no cost. it's very challenging to make these budgets work. but we lunch ladies are out there trying to do the best job that we can. >> i hope you don't think that that is a disparaging terms. we all loved our lunch ladies. >> some love it, some don't. i happy to like it. >> eliott says responsibility shared by the parents and the schools both should encourage
the kids eat healthy and make it available. and deanna said it's the parents responsibility. they pack their children's lunches or pay the money . responsibility, who is it? >> it's absolutely the participant' parent'sresponsibility. i would like to respond to those who may have parents who can't afford it. of school lunches, 33% were full price. which means the average is $2.30. that means that these kids come from families where they did not qualify for reduced price or free meal. why don't we focus on that 33% of kids who clearly do not need meal. their parents with can do it for them or if they're older they can pack the meal.
part of the problem with the school lunch program is that it's bloated and it's to help inconvenienced parent. parents should set their alarms 15 minutes early and pack a lunch. we should leave this program to the kids who like it. we shouldn't be subsidizing middle class and affluence people who want to sleep a little more in the morning. >> may i respond to that? >> yes. >> we do have a situation of children ar who do qualify for free and reduced and they're stigmatized. so-so they go in one line and the kids with more money go with the cool food. now we have the kids further stigmatized where the kids who
can afford it show up. it should be the opposite. it should be noted that the original proposal to improve the school meal guidelines asked for $10 billion. we got the equivalent of $0.06 a meal instead of $.10 a meal. the schools are being asked to do more with less. they should provide the funding that they need. we need to do away with the stigmatizing of the school children. >> that is an issue. you want to make sure that there are no lines crossed who is getting the free lunch and who is not. there are busy parents that are working and it would be great if parents could bring, make their lunch. but sometimes that just doesn't happen. >> do you think parents don't know? look at the photos at the top of the show? would you bring those foods into your household on a regular basis
and feed that to your kids? >> no, but i don't think kids always know what is being served. i think they assume it's a healthy lunch. they just haven't taken the time to look at it. i encourage parents to look at it and find out what their kids are eating. these changes do not happen just with parents. it's a collaborative effort. those costs that jean was talking about, those are real costs. we need to get the communities involved and that's how change happens. >> w we have more coming up next.
>> welcome back. we're taking steps to make sure children receive nutritious and healthy meals. what can parents learn from your work thus far if they want to get involved? >> i think parents need to educate themselves. first find out what their kids are being served in school and learn how the system works because every school system is different. we do not have cooking equipment. and understand how many kids are on your free and reduced program because that does exact your
impact your costs. work with our school officials and run a positive campaign. you need to work in collaboration. if you come on with a very negative attitude i don't think it gets you anywhere. but trying to work together to make change happen so people understand the issue is the first step. >> michelle, can these local program ever get broad national traction give the influence of the food and beverage lobby? >> sure. but it takes leadership, though. just saying the parents getting involved, but i don't think we parents. it's not either/or. it's not just up to parents or the federal government. of course we all need to work together to fix this problem. but innovative programs like farms to school where farms are teeming up with the local food movement to get fresh food and local farms to source ingredients for schools, those programs can take hold. it just takes a lot of
leadership and a lot of sticking to it, and persistence over time. we can actuall absolutely make e change. >> julie, what is your recommendation at this point? >> i really wish that parents would take a greater role in feeding their children. studies show, there was a study talking about how important that kids turn the television off. screen time is clearly related to childhood obesity, and i really hope that parents take a greater role in their child's nutritional development. the lunch lady has hundreds of kids to feed. but when the parent tells the child, there is this sandwich and an apple. there is this native that packing a lunch is so hard. but i don't think it's hard to put an apple and a turkey
sandwich in a bag. i hope that we encourage a greater role for parents. >> alexander has a tweet. we allow money to enter the conversation, healthy and nutrition should be never nobody the same combo as moneyy. and here is a video from casey. >> the deck is stacked against healthy foods. it is such an uneven playing field because our tax dollars are used to subsidize ingredients in junk food. and junk food is engineered to be addictive to take advantage of our basic biology. schools should be doing what they can to level the playing field so our children can love foods that love them back. >> what can schools do to level the playing field? >> what i would ask, the photos--i've seen plenty of them, take a look at what is offered versus what the students
take on their tray. that's where parents can make a big difference. generally when i see a picture of a student tray, something they've selected it's missing the very fruits and vegetables that we wish they would take and that are available. when you think about school lunch, think about what is offered and that's where parents can help. the second part of this puzzle for me is that we really are operating a business within a school district the way things are set up. >> we have 10 seconds. >> we have to pay for indirects, custodial, all these things to make things work. we need the paying student. we need all of the students to make this puzzle work for us. >> that is all the time we have for this conversation. thanks to all of our guests. we appreciate you coming on. thanks to our community, we'll see you online.