Parenting

Thank You, Rachael Ray, for Speaking Out on School Lunch Reform

| by One Hungry Mama

I wondered if this was worth posting. Not that it isn’t newsworthy—it is—but I try to keep what I post tightly focused. When I post food-related news, it’s usually something big that you, as parents, should be aware of. Is it really important for you to know that Rachael Ray was lobbying for school lunch reform in DC this week? Probably not. But there’s something about how Rachael handled herself that made me want to say, “Thank you!” out loud.

And, actually, there’s more than that. This week, Rachael Ray reminded me that, despite my efforts to treat school lunch purely as a general parent-interest story, it’s political. All food is political. Especially when policy is on the line, as it is with school lunch reform. While I can keep my politics behind-the-scenes most of the time, sometimes, I just have to speak out. The way Rachel did.

Her fan base is vast and appeal widespread. What she says resonates and has the power to influence people, so it’s powerful when she says:

“How could you go to any state in the union and say you are not for an extra couple of cents to eradicate hunger, to make our kids healthier, stronger, better focused? It doesn’t make any sense that you would even have to have a long conversation about that, to me.”

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

Amen!

My fan base is small. Microscopic compared to Ray’s (is there something smaller than that—nanoscopic?). What I say barely causes a ripple and hardly influences. BUT I do have this forum. And, small as my voice is, I’d like to say that our food choices, how we spend our money, what brands we support and whether or not we speak up about better food options in our neighborhoods and schools is political. If we don’t take action, if we don’t support brands that do good by us and our kids, if we don’t use our pocketbooks—however big or small–to show that we will only support companies and initiatives that give us fresh, healthy foods, we are making a political statement, whether we intend to or not.

Now it may sound like I’m contradicting myself (these things are complicated), but I don’t think this means that every single action has to be perfectly in line with some larger political stance. For example, I buy a handful of products made by big companies that, in principle, I’d rather not support. But we’re not perfect and, in a world as complicated as ours, we will end up being hypocritical. To expect that you won’t will drive you insane. (Or, I suppose, radicalize you, which is not something likely to happen to me and my Perez-Hilton reading, designer bag loving self.)

More important than being perfect is being aware. Know what’s going on; find small manageable ways to make your voice heard (and what’s manageable to me may not be manageable to you); spend your money, or as much as you can, on fresh healthy foods; and demand that the government support us in these efforts through subsidies that make organic farming more affordable for farmers, tighter watch over the big food conglomerates, better school lunches and whatever else matters to you.

I’ve gone off on a bit of a tirade, huh?! Thanks for reading (if you still are). I was just inspired by Rachel Ray and her “big Sicilian mouth.” There was just something so great about her straightforwardness, highlighting how insane it is to not demand help from our government in making our children healthier.

If you, too, are inspired here are some ways you can show it (via Living Liberally): give Rachael a shout out and/or let Senator Gillibrand know we appreciate her and Ray’s efforts.

Photo: NY Times