Labor Day Eat-Ins
As a longtime member of Slow Food USA, I wanted to let FN Dish readers know about an important event that kicks off on Labor Day. Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.
Slow Food USA is organizing a National Day of Action on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2009. On that day, people in communities across America will gather with their neighbors for Eat-Ins (part potluck, part sit-in) that send a clear message to Congress: It’s time to provide America’s children with real food at school.
In June, Michelle Obama made these remarks to a group of fifth-graders who had just harvested 73 pounds of lettuce and 12 pounds of snap peas from the First Lady’s Garden on the White House Lawn:
“To make sure that we give all our kids a good start to their day and to their future, we need to improve the quality and nutrition of the food served in schools. We're approaching the first big opportunity to move this to the top of the agenda with the upcoming reauthorization of the child nutrition programs. In doing so, we can go a long way towards creating a healthier generation for our kids.”
It wasn’t Michael Pollan who said those words. It was the First Lady. Coming from her, the phrase “big opportunity to move this to the top of the agenda” is a call to action that food-conscious citizens cannot ignore.
The National School Lunch Program provides a meal to 30 million children every school day. Right now, school cafeterias are so underfunded that they are forced to serve the fast food and junk food that puts children at risk for diet-related diseases like obesity and diabetes. There’s no excuse for federal policy that hurts our children. It’s time to give schools the ability to serve real food for lunch, and to begin building a strong foundation for our children’s health.
The latest numbers show that obesity costs our health care system $147 billion each year, half of which is paid for by taxpayers in the form of Medicare and Medicaid. Giving schools the ability to serve real food is a major down payment on health care reform, and will save taxpayers huge sums of money in the future. School lunch is also a major opportunity for linking local schools to local farms, which would be an economic engine for creating jobs in rural areas and would keep hard-earned dollars in local communities.
This year, the Child Nutrition Act, which is the bill that governs the National School Lunch Program, is up for reauthorization. Unless citizens everywhere speak up this summer, “business as usual” in Congress will pass a Child Nutrition Act that continues to fail our children. We can do better. Our leaders in Congress have to hear that everyday people in their districts refuse to accept the status quo. We have to tell them that when it comes to our children and the legacy we’re leaving them, change can’t wait.
That’s why Slow Food USA is organizing a
National Day of Action on Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2009. On that day, people in communities across America will gather with their neighbors for Eat-Ins (part potluck, part sit-in) that send a clear message to Congress: It’s time to provide America’s children with real food at school.
Attend an Eat-In on Labor Day, and bring your friends, too. With the President calling for health care reform and the First Lady planting a garden on the White House Lawn, we’ve got an opening to pass legislation that grants 30 million children the freedom to grow up healthy. But it’ll only happen if we take action.
We start on Labor Day, with Eat-Ins across America. It’s time for lunch.