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Eating Well At School (in Los Angeles At Least)

For students, the promotion of optimal eating habits dictated in health class are often undermined in the school cafeteria. Here, plastic tray compartments are filled with formless food that serves as the object of disconcerting contemplation.

Home life clearly plays an influential  role in the development of healthy eating habits, however, from an early age children spend a majority of their day in the school environment. It is here that their choices are defined, with most kids eating lunch and even breakfast at school.

While this can be seen as an opportunity for schools to promote nutritious decisions, most lunch programs are lacking in selection. Even if a student makes a conscious effort to choose food of better quality, their actions are stifled in the lunchroom.

This problem has only escalated since the introduction of competitive food options, which manifest in the form of snacks, sweets, and beverages. These foods are sold in addition to the school’s standard lunch program and do not provide federal reimbursement. Due to the incorporation of competitive foods, schools have been making less money at lunchtime, as instead of buying items that are part of the school’s lunch program students increasingly opt for ‘supplementary’ snack foods instead. This results in poor nutrition and reduced funds for the school.

Fortunately, measures are being taken to improve lunch programs.

The city of Los Angeles recently adopted the Good Food Purchasing Policy (GFPP), which encourages the ethical and sustainable purchases of food suppliers. Often this entails purchasing food from local farms and farms that meet environmentally sustainable practices.

The Los Angeles United School District caters to one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., serving up 650,000 meals a day to public school students. Thanks to the GFPP, these meals contain crops that have been grown using organic standards and sustainable practices.

Hopefully, it won’t end here, as the Natural Resources Defense Council is now nudging food suppliers in New York City to adopt the policy.

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