Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blog Spotlight: Fed Up with Lunch

I believe that one of the main purposes of this blog is to educate my readers on food, lifestyle, health and vitality. However, I am only one person. To provide you with the most information I can, I will periodically be spotlighting relevant blogs that I follow providing you with my thoughts on the blog and how it has impacted me. To implement change in the world, there need to be many rock stars-and we need to all work together! Mrs. Q is an awesome example of a rock star. She is a school teacher who started a blog to grow awareness on what children are eating for lunch at school. Her blog is appropriately called Fed Up with Lunch.

I started following Fed Up with Lunch about 5 months ago and it has been a really enlightening read. The daily posts that include pictures of the lunches and Mrs. Q's reactions before, during and after eating them have really gotten me thinking about what children today eat.

Now, I don't know about you, but I remember school lunches fairly well. As a child on the subsidized school lunch program, I ate lunch daily from the hot food line. My favorite item was the McDonald-like hash browns. I would sometimes even ask a friend for theirs. I remember that there were chicken nugget Wednesdays and pizza Fridays. Sometimes a very salty chicken noodle soup and oyster crackers (probably my second favorite thing at lunch). I recall repeatedly trying to eat the spaghetti with the blue plastic sporks (the ultimate utensil of spoon and fork). I didn't know, much less think, about nutrition. All I knew was that I did not have lunch and had to eat something. I don't remember how much of the food I ate vs. threw away. I do remember that I tried as hard as I could to cut the navel oranges with the flimsy plastic knives that we got or clawed at it with my miniature fingers. Providing oranges without the appropriate tools-how were we supposed to even eat it? The food was awful but looking back, I have to say it was not nutritious either. And word is, the food is even worse now!

Lucky for me, I was able to go home every day and was presented a wonderfully mom-cooked dinner that always had vegetables, fish, rice and soup. And oftentimes, we would end the meal with fruit. However, many children were and are not as fortunate as I was. Their school breakfasts and lunches are the backbones of their nutrition and thus, their health. Today's children are more hyper, less attentive, fatter and sicker than ever before. What is even more awful is that this generation's children are the first to be predicted to live shorter lives than their parents. This is ALL directly attributed to the food they are eating and not eating. There needs to be something done about this!

We each have an obligation to play a role in this unofficial campaign for better health for children. Fed Up with Lunch is Mrs. Q's avenue in expressing herself and her disdain with school lunches. And it's a true indication of a growing population impassioned and empowered to make changes in children's foods and especially, school foods. This population includes First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let's Move program and Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver and his efforts to changes school lunches in the UK and US.

Up until about a month ago, I did not think that imparting changes in schools would be part of my mission as a Health Counselor and citizen. I didn't think it was selfish-I just thought, there are so many ways to spread my efforts, is children's school food one of them? However, between everything I am reading and seeing externally and reflecting upon internally, my perspective has shifted. I mean-DUH-how can I not try to impact something so central as school foods-a system that feeds the future of this country more than 3/4 of the year? I believe the idea of approaching a school has been tough as I am away from my school system and the idea of going to a foreign school district to make changes was a bit too daunting for me. But that doesn't mean I still can't be involved in that area. Instead, I decided will be offering afterschool and summer activities/programs for children and teleclasses to parents and teachers on how they can impact changes into their school systems.  Additionally, I am offering health counseling to families!

You don't have to be a celebrity or a health counselor to impact change. You don’t even have to start a blog! (unless you want to). Start with your family and friends! Take your children to the grocery store with you and show them what to purchase. Start a conversation in your school district! Join the PTA. Start after school programs at your local elementary school. Present to the Girl Scout or Boy Scout troops! Talk to your children's teachers.  Start packing awesome lunches for your kids.  Maybe you can even have your kids start a blog :)

Be a rock star and start rocking the boat! There is so much that you can do too!

If you are a parent, teacher or just someone looking to implement change in your school district, keep an eye out on my blog and events section for teleclasses that I am offering on steps you can take to start make changes.

If you are in the Boston area, look for upcoming film screenings, workshops and events at the South End Branch Library regarding food, nutrition and health and local grocery store tours!

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