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Gov't Must Improve Our School Lunches

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Dr. Wendy Walsh: This morning at school, I watched my 7-year-old dig into an unrecognizable white blob called breakfast. It was sort of a pancake, sort of a scone -- and mostly mush. I was curious, so I tasted it myself. As it plopped on my tongue, my mouth was immediately swamped by a paste laced with fake-cinnamon flavor and a ton of sugar. And I still don't know what I ate!

Sorry to tarnish the name of Thomas Crapper (the famous English plumber who once improved the loo), but I have to say: School lunches deserve to be flushed directly in the crapper, to bypass the middle man. I happen to be a mom who sits at public school with my breakfast eaters, and I have even sampled the cafeteria lunch. Whenever I eat the stuff, all I taste is sugar, salt and fat. What will happen if a generation of kids eats this stuff? 

Actually, the bad effects are already evidencing themselves: Kids are getting fatter than ever. According to a 2009 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study, more than 12 percent of high school students are considered obese, and 78 percent eat fruits and vegetables less than five times per day. 

What's worse, the government's bid to improve school food (the so-called "Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act," which will require schools to meet new nutrition guidelines and expand the number of low-income children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals) is about to expire on September 30th unless mothers band together to get things done. 

Atlanta mom of three Heather Schoenrock, cofounder of Jack's Harvest organic baby food, is one of the loudest voices in the campaign to get the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act passed. Heather, who is a chef, started her company to bring healthy foods to kids. Until school lunches get better, she encourages parents to pack nutritious, homemade lunches and to model healthy eating habits at home. Parents can also e-mail their state representative in support of the Act by clicking here. (If the server's busy, keep trying!)

As for me, I'm going to make some tuna salad with low-fat mayo and spread it on some whole-grain bread for tomorrow's lunchbox. I'm getting the schools out of my kids' tummies!


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