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Friday, September 4, 2009


We think of Labor Day as a time to consider the working lives of adults, but this September 7th, why not do something active for the working lives of children? Slow Food and other local organizations are sponsoring a National Action Day to Get Real Food into Schools. In case you don't know it, the national school lunch system is in need of serious overhaul. Jan Poppendieck, whose prior work has been on emergency food, non-profits, government accountability, and hunger, has turned her attention to school lunches -- and while her new book, Free For All, isn't out until January, it shouldn't stop you from learning about the issues now and adding your voice -- and your potluck dish -- to the collective outcry. Here's a link to a recent interview with Poppendieck. And here's what University of California Press has to say about Poppendieck's book: "Drawing from extensive interviews with officials, workers, students, and activists, she discusses the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs and turns a critical eye on the "competitive foods" sold in cafeterias. How did we get into the absurd situation in which nutritionally regulated meals compete with fast food items and snack foods loaded with sugar, salt, and fat? What is the nutritional profile of the federal meals? How well are they reaching students who need them? Opening a window onto our culture as a whole, Poppendieck reveals the forces--the financial troubles of schools, the commercialization of childhood, the reliance on market models--that are determining how lunch is served. She concludes with a sweeping vision for change: fresh, healthy food for all children as a regular part of their school day" In the meantime, let's consider what you can do: When they re-convene this fall, Congress will decide whether to update the Child Nutrition Act, which is the law that determines what 30 million children eat at school every day. As many of you know, some of our national nutritional guidelines are shaped by political rather than health interests (remember that ketchup is considered a vegetable...). This national action claims that, "By giving schools the resources to serve real food, we can build a strong foundation for our children’s health. We can teach them healthy habits that will last them through life. We can make a down payment on health care e reform. We can do all of this--but only if we help our legislators connect the dots." The Call-to-Action on September 7th includes three good activities: 1. Attend an Eat-In in your community on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2009. On that day,people across America will come together for public potlucks that send a clear message to legislators: It’s time to provide our children with real food at school. Right now there are 239 potlucks planned in 49 states! Many of these are taking place outdoors and in public parks, in schools, and in private homes. Check out the map on the slow website to find one near you. If there's no potluck in your community, consider gathering your friends and family together, taking a photo and sending it along to us in order to show your support. We need to show legislators that there's a real movement for change, which means we need people from every corner of the country to help out. 2. Sign the Time for Lunch petition at . Help us get 20,000 signatures by September 7th by telling friends, family, coworkers, church, groups and everyone else you know to sign it, too. One of the best ways to do that is post a link to Facebook and share it with blogs, message boards and listservs. Spread the word! 3. Tell your legislators in Congress that it’s time to give schools the resources to serve real food. The petition and National Eat-In will build momentum, but legislators need to know that this is a priority in their districts. Contact your legislators by writing them a letter, making a phone call and inviting them to your Eat-In. The Slow website has all the resources you need to do this.. The Time for Lunch Platform explains the first steps Congress needs to take in order to get real food into schools. For more information, go to

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