I’ll admit that since I don’t have children, I approached this book from a foodie perspective rather than from a concerned parent perspective. Having read In Defense of Food and An Omnivore’s Dilemna within the past year, I am always interested in reading about America’s problems with food.
The other day I was at my friend Marlo’s house and I noticed the menu for her kid’s school lunches that week hanging on the fridge. I noticed the menu for one day this week was
Baked Potato w/Toppings
Whole Wheat Roll
which is pretty impressive, I think. It’s certainly an improvement from the chicken fried steak and potato wedges I remember from my childhood school lunches. Granted, there was still the standard Sloppy Joes, nachos, pepperoni pizza and corndogs on the menu I glanced at, but at least some attention had been given to add healthier sides and option.
I know as well as the author, however, that these seemingly heathier options are not available everywhere and the biggest obstacle with changing our school food policies is economics. Fayetteville is not exactly an inner-city.
To be honest, parts of this book were a little boring to me. There is a huge list of additives to avoid which is useful, but long and monotonous. Kalafa blames a lot of the lunch issues on “Big Food” and the government’s support of brands over local farms. Basically, this book has A LOT of information. I guess I thought it would read as more of a narrative than a set of guidelines and policies. Despite my misconceptions, this book would be a great resource for someone looking to change or improve their school’s lunch program. It was eye-opening and made me really think about the wellness programs our country currently has in place. Lunch Wars is very political and focuses on issues like vending machine policies, the economics of the National School Lunch Program, USDA policies and school incentives for supplying name-brand snacks. Not all the discussions are negative, she also puts an emphasis on school gardens and composting.
Overall, Lunch Wars exposes the issues affecting lunch room food today and offers doable solutions for anyone looking to overhaul their local school’s meal policies .
While I don’t know that I’ll be implementing any of Kalafa’s ideas anytime soon, they will definitely stick with me when it comes time to send my own future munchkins to the cafeteria. Lunch Wars is a great call to action for changing the way American kids eat.
*Disclosure: This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.