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Colorado’s Solution To Childhood Obesity: The Renegade Lunch Lady

Cecelia and I just finished watching the movie Food Inc. It is a movie worth watching.

I was upset seeing the abuse of our food chain by big food corporations. There is little respect for America’s food safety.

America’s obesity epidemic is caused, in part, by the food industry’s ability to produce cheap food. Fifty years ago, when I was at Columbia College, the solution to America’s impending food shortage was debated. The predication was the nation was going to face a food shortage in the next 50 years.

Advances in genetics and farm technology solved the problem. However, the solutions to potential food shortages have led to unintended consequences. Our government has failed to enact and enforce appropriate food safety rules for the protection of its citizens.

Nonetheless, the federal government subsidizes the mega agriculture industry.

The government is supposed to be our surrogate for food safety. The Food and Drug Administration is powerless and uninterested in controlling the abuse of large food producers.

People want their food to be safe. If Americans their food to be safe they are going to have to  take control of its quality and safety. It is has to be done one meal at a time in one community at a time.

Parent/Teacher organizations (PTA’s) through local school districts are taking actions in ways our federal, state and local governments have failed prevent our children from becoming obese.

My granddaughter lives in the Boulder Valley School District. The local school district realized that a good place to start changing eating habits of children is in the primary grades. It is being done by the use of organic, low fat, whole grain menus in the school lunch program rather than the traditional cheap fried fast foods.

Ann Cooper “The Renegade Lunch Lady” came to the school district to introduce her plan to improve school lunches.

The plan is simple:

  • All milk is Organic Valley from Colorado ranchers.

· No more trans fats, highly processed foods or high fructose corn syrup, ever!

  • Rudi’s bread is used for all bread products.
  • Blackjack makes the pizza to Ann’s specifications (51% whole grain crust, etc.).
  • All pasta and red sauces are made in-house and organic.
  • Fruits and vegetables are organic and local whenever possible (all of September’s fruits were both!).
  • Improved salad bars with fresh fruit and protein items daily

The principal sent a note to the parents of the elementary school:

“The best way to support Ann and the commitment to healthy public school lunches is by encouraging your child to eat hot lunch – even if it’s just once a week.  The more money that goes into the system, the more Ann is able to change about the system.  You can check out her web site – she’s world renowned, works in D.C. with the USDA to improve the public school lunch standards nationwide, and is one of the top experts in this field.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Principal, Bear Creek Elementary School

Boulder, CO   80305”

If parents participate in the principal’s recommendation at a small supplemental cost a lot can be accomplished.

1. Obesity in kids decreased. Childhood Obesity is causing childhood Diabetes Mellitus, early coronary artery disease and other complications of Diabetes Mellitus.

2. The impact on the healthcare system will be a decrease in cost. Shouldn’t President Obama be concentrating on food supply value and safety? It could be done inexpensively and effectively.

3. Educated children will insist that the parents “eat healthy” at home.

4. A change in eating habits will force large corporations such as ADM, Monsanto and others to rethink their abuses of the food chain.

5. A change in eating habits will encourage large food chains such as Wal-Mart and Target to rethink their offerings in order to stay competitive.

6. America will have a consumer driven food reform program.

I think we are going to have to do it ourselves one meal at a time. President Obama might wake up and act on citizens’ requests, and not special interests.

It will go a long way to Repairing the Healthcare System.

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

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One Response to “Colorado’s Solution To Childhood Obesity: The Renegade Lunch Lady”

  1. Mary Hendrick says:

    Great idea, but need to emphasize whole fats, instead of partial fats like 2% milk, which is an incomplete protein. The body’s intelligence craves whole proteins, not fractured ones like those found in ‘low-fat’ items. Also, would de-emphasize wheat, rye, and barley, which cause weight gain and allergic reactions in many people, i.e., gluten-intolerance, celiac, which affect 1 in 100 people, although the numbers are probably much higher in that the majority of people have not been tested. 55 ‘diseases’ can be attributed to gluten-intolerance, among them, lupus, fibromyalgia, arthritis, allergies, asthma, etc.

    Milk is not a healthy food to promote, although the powers that be will always continue to include it in the food pyramid, which should be reversed on its head. Vegetables, fruits (NOT fruit juice, which is high-glycemic and causes weight gain and contains too much sugar in the form of fructose and sucrose. Milk actually contributes to bone loss in that it is an acidic food and leaches calcium from bones in order to alkalinize the body which needs a slightly more alkaline balance.

    Soups, salads, turkey, fish, nuts, etc. should be a part of the lunch menu instead of the highly-processed food which usually consists of the lowest common denominator of foods the Agricultural Dept. deems ‘acceptable’ for school lunches.

    And what about packing your own lunch? That is the ultimate control and for those who have time constraints, have your kids learn how to do this themselves, including learning to cook for themselves. It’s a survival skill…we owe it to our kids to teach them.

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