There was always a weird excitement about getting school lunch. Kids lined up gossiping about who likes who, who was the best monkey-bar swinger or even what happened during the latest episode of Rugrats. I remember walking into the cafeteria with a confidence because I memorized my lunch-number [all the kids in government sponsored school lunch programs had a special number] and everything else was just a routine. Punch in number, get milk, grab utensil, get tray, skip the salad bar, sit down. The routine seemed mechanical – it was a marker of the industrialization of our food system.
As we learned in class, it isn’t as simple as “farm to fork” when it comes to our food. There are multiple processes, often complex ones mixed with bureaucracy, capitalism and legislation that come into play when kids get their lunch. I was shocked, but not completely surprised that school lunch programs spurred up as a way to get rid of our access food supply. Milk and food companies are in cahoots with people in the government, and poor Sylvia and her siblings can’t seem to catch a break. Of course I am not completely sure how the relationship between private companies and legislation completely works, but I do know that there is a whole lot of lobbying wherever there is a big green lawn and a big white building.
But how do we go about solving problems like this? We can’t have Jamie Oliver coming into all of the schools of the nation spilling out truck loads of fat for everyone to see [Exhibit A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fet-5oYwus0]. But maybe this is some of the outrageous things we need to do to get people’s attention. It’s got Michelle Obama on the lookout. As today marks MLK day and the start of another four years with the Obamas, who knows where school lunches could end up?
Some further short reading: