Food For LunchFri 27 May 2011
Story by Jennie Cook
Jennie Cook is an organic chef, trained permaculturist and lifelong eater who has created fresh menus for Hollywood parties and film productions for twenty-five years. While her own kids are grown and out of the house, she has now set her sights on improving public school food in Los Angeles and has co-founded Food for Lunch.
Food for Lunch is a group of concerned LAUSD parents, residents, grassroots and community organizations from across LA who have joined together to affect positive change in the LAUSD lunchroom.
Food for Lunch actively engages the LAUSD on menu improvements, by putting forward a clear list of nutrition demands and standing strongly for transparency. Food for Lunch also helps parents advocate for pilot programs eliminating meal-service chocolate and flavored milk by working in concert with concerned principals and nutrition directors on a school-by-school basis.
Just some of the changes Food for Lunch are advocating include, California-sourced whole foods served daily for breakfast and lunch, more unprocessed fruits and vegetables served with each meal, no added sugar to food or milk and the removal of foods made with high fructose corn syrup, along with filtered, non bottled water as a beverage option school wide and sustainability sourced and minimally packaged foods.
Jennie has found that fresh natural food innovations at the school level cannot happen district wide without open communication about public school budgets. The cost of fresh food is always sited as the stumbling point, but never explained, yet this does not stop Jennie.
Food for Lunch has added transparency to their mission and asked district officials to open their food, staffing and transportation costs up for the public scrutiny and new thinking. Jennie’s goal is to help the district source school food ingredients from more farmers markets than freezer trucks. Jennie’s demands are evidence based and lead with the premise that the cafeteria is a place of learning and that good dietary habits learned in childhood will continue throughout adulthood.
A healthier food program within LAUSD schools will help accomplish the US Dietary Guidelines’ advisory committee’s priorities and protect children from obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Jennie believes that the health-giving properties of food go beyond what is printed on its package and that processing removes the inherent nutrients and quality of whole foods that are vital to good health and obesity prevention.
The Food Revolution salutes Jennie and Food for Lunch for its commitment to system-wide fresh food.
About the author: Jennie Cook is the co-founded Food for Lunch in LA.
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