NYT on the Current State of School Food

Just wanted to point you to an excellent piece in today’s New York Times taking stock of the current state of school food.

Reporter Kim Severson does a great job assessing the impact of Obama-era reforms in our children’s cafeterias, and the degree to which the Trump administration has (or has not) made significant changes to that legacy. Severson also touches on the issue of lunch shaming, which I covered earlier this year for the paper.

One important point in the piece: federal funding for school meals is highly unlikely to increase under Trump – and, indeed, it could well be slashed. Chef Ann Cooper, quoted in the article, says districts and parents have no choice but to assert local control: “If we want to see changes happen, they are going to come out of public-private partnerships or foundations and N.G.O.s. People need to take matters into their own hands.”

I agree with that assessment, and Severson highlights several locally-driven efforts around the country that have greatly improved school meals. But as I’ve said here on TLT before, relying on local investment in school food will inevitably create a patchwork of “haves” and “have nots,” in which some kids benefit from the efforts of highly involved parents and motivated districts, while others continue to be served overly processed, heat-n-eat meals.

Unfortunately, in that kind of regime, the kids who most need fresh, healthy school meals may be the least likely to get them.

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