The fight against childhood obesity and the struggle to makeover the school lunch program have finally reached a critical tipping point. Our government is proposing and passing laws that are enacting real change to a system that has been in place for decades! Hooray!
We would like to share our stance on some of these powerful changes and what sparked them:
1) Have you seen Jamie Oliver's T.V. show called Food Revolution? Wow, has it really stirred up controversy by exposing the politics behind school lunch. We believe his revealing show accelerated the rate of change happening around this topic. "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution campaign seeks to educate families about food and cooking, and address the quality of the food served in school lunch programs." (jamieoliver.com)
Peas position: We love to cook, break bread with loved ones, and enjoy swapping useful tips for cooking and feeding kids healthfully, but we recognize that there's not always time to make healthy meals from scratch. We are proud to offer wholesome and convenient food that parents can feel good about feeding their kids (and themselves) on those chaotic days when meals from scratch are not feasible.
2) Lisa Mancino of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees school-meal programs, calls the new approach "stealth health," getting kids to eat healthy without even realizing it. As it turns out, the problem may not be the presence of junk food after all; it's that the good food just isn't appealing enough. ("Stealth Health for Kids" - Newsweek, 2009.)
Peas position: We're often associated with the concept of "stealth health"...where adults 'sneak' veggies into kids' foods. We take a more transparent approach. We aren't hiding the broccoli in our Broccoli Veggie Wedgies; we are just reinventing the classic French fry by making them healthier. For us, it's not about tricking kids. We hope they like what they are eating and also know that its made from veggies. Maybe after knowingly enjoying Broccoli fries, a broccoli floret in a stir fry won't look so daunting/disgusting.
3) Under a federal law passed last December, the USDA guidelines will limit the number of calories served at every school meal and require programs to offer a broad variety of fruits and vegetables - not just corn and potatoes. The USDA has proposed a ban on potatoes in school lunch programs as an attempt to fight childhood obesity.
Peas position: Years ago we tried to work with a few local schools but were told our foods didn't have enough calories required for school lunch. We couldn't believe that schools were wanting more calories instead of more nutrients! As regular french fries are served less frequently in schools (or eliminated from school menus altogether), Veggie Wedgies are bursting onto the scene, replacing the fat- and salt-laden offenders. We couldn't be more proud!
4) The expansion of breakfast served at schools has yielded great results with students and teachers. Many kids who weren't getting breakfast at home are now better able to focus in class from the mid-morning until lunchtime. Even the kids who were used to having breakfast at home are fond of choosing their breakfast (hot or cold) at school. Get the full inside scoop from an observant school teacher on the Fed Up with School Lunch blog.
Peas position: We think this is a great idea and others in the food industry do too. Major retailers like Walmart are getting involved by funding projects like Breakfast in the Classroom which "aim to increase breakfast consumption among school children and spark the academic and nutritional gains associated with the morning meal." (walmart.com)
Stayed tuned for more thoughts on school lunch in a couple weeks!