School Lunches Fall Prey to Lobbyists


Exactly who determines what goes into the often-criticized school lunch? Surely Pepsi Co. and the pork industry don't have a say. Or do they?

Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are charged with the important task of re-authorizing the national school lunch program every five years, and here's a look at the many organizations attempting to influence the final decision.

Dawn Pfahl
3/16/2009 1:29:08 PM

As much as our government affects food choices in school, there are alternatives for most kids - packing a lunch is the best way to ensure that your child eats only what you think he or she should (although I debate the sanity of any parent trying to control everything their child takes in). Even on a tight budget, parents can teach kids how to select healthy foods to bring with them to school, or how to decide on the healthiest options from their school menu. They may elect to take an apple from home to add to their school-funded meal instead of the canned fruit offerings; they may simply be educated enough to turn down chicken nuggets in favor of PBJ. If enough of us stop funding these companies by not buying unhealthy foods, the school will be forced to reevaluate its lunch offerings - hopefully by providing even more healthy lunches instead. The key here is to provide an effort from both sides - it doesn't matter how many times the medical world tells us to eat healthy and edits our lunch menus, if as a community we are still packing twinkies in lunchboxes and avoiding talk of calories and fat content with our middle schoolers. Don't let the industry get to them first - arm them with knowledge to make their own choices and let them be the market force which drives unhealthy foods out of schools.

3/4/2009 1:59:58 PM

It's so important that our children receive healthy foods at school. They need fruits, vegetables, and more meatless options. Soda and junk foods (as well as other common cafeteria items, like greasy chicken nuggets and corndogs) aren't doing anything for our kids' health. When Congress renews the Child Nutrition Act it must encourage schools to serve healthier meals. Low-fat, low-cholesterol vegetarian foods need to be more affordable, and schools that serve nutritious foods (fruits, vegetables, vegetarian options) should receive additional funding. There's a physicians group trying to get vegetarian foods in the lunch line. I just signed their petition at

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