Student Posting on District Food Policy

I am a member or the MMSD’s Student Senate. I am currently involved in a group discussing a draft of a proposed food policy which I feel is rather Draconian. The draft has not yet been made public (I am told this is because it is a “draft” and thus not ready for release) and that the issues have been publicized. However, I am concerned about some measures of the policy and feel that they have not been highlighted for interested parents. I think some of you might have concerns as well. Here are some of the propositions that my committee has voted against altering as well as what parents were told at the January 17th meeting about the policy
“When beverage vending is available, the only beverages that be offered for sale [not me wording] or permitted in schools at all sites accessible to students will be water, milk, fruit juices composed of 100% fruit juice with no added sweeteners of caffeine, and electrolyte replacement (“sports”) beverages that do not contain caffeine or more than 42 grams of added sweetener per 20 oz serving.”
“No food will be sold to students in vending machines”
This is currently true of all elementary schools and most middle schools, but not the high schools. Vending sales at the four major high schools bring in roughly $15-20 thousand a year for the school (some of a principal’s only discretionary income). Personally, I feel eliminating all sales of soda and snacks seems extreme, especially considering the current financial pressure schools are under. The “cold turkey” elimination of all of these sales starting with the 06-07 school year seems like too much.
“Candy will not be given or sold to students nor offered for sale at school or to the community by the school during the school day. The sale of candy and snacks [this language will be revised to be more specific] is not permitted on school grounds during the school day.”
This would mean that clubs that rely on sales of such items would have to search for new methods. Bake sales would be eliminated. Students would be able to buy a giant cookie in the lunchroom, but not a small one in support of a club.

From the information packet from the parent meeting on the 17th, it seems the district made it’s intentions somewhat clear here. “Should we continue [vending/fundraising sale of soda/snacks] in light of what we know about the relationship of food intake to the increase in overweight and obese children?” The document does not mention the proposed elimination of such sales.
The district was less open about some other issues. For example, while healthier lunch was discussed, the following was not:
“All ‘a la carte’ items that are available during the school breakfast/lunch program that is served to students during the school day will have no more than 40% (35% by 9/1/2007 and 30% by 9/1/2008) of total calories derived from fat and no more than 10% of calories derived from saturated fat.”
On the surface, this sounds like a good idea. However, the realities would be, quite simply, stupid. Students would be able to purchase pizza as part of a meal, but not just as a slice. What this would mean, since many students who buy meals don’t eat the included fruit and milk, is that they would end up paying more for the same slice.
“No food preparation or cooking is permitted in the classrooms other than Family and Consumer Education classes or other classes with the express purpose of teaching cooking In these classes, no peanuts or nut products will be used.”
Thus, foreign language classes would no longer be allowed to prepare tradition dishes (a common practice in my experience) and elementary school classes would not be able to cook (I know some of these schools have special school-day programs involving cooking that would have to go).
On these issues, parents were only given questions asking what would be done to ensure the safety of children with food allergies without unduly infringing on the food choices or others’ and how the safety of none Food Services prepared foods could be insured. No mention of the proposed policies was made (which is especially egregious considering some of the provisions under the food allergies section that were modified just today).
I know some of your views may differ from mine, but I feel that what is most important is that you are not kept in the dark about what is going on in this district. There will be a second parent meeting held this Thurs. the 26th. I can’t seem to find the time or location on the district web site so if you are interested, good luck finding it. Sometime in late March or Early April, this issue will go before the full Board of Education (I will try and let you know when that meeting will take place) so you will have another opportunity to voice your opinion.

37 thoughts on “Student Posting on District Food Policy”

  1. I’m definitely interested in what other people think about this proposed policy. This could have all types of consequences for the MMSD. Both good and bad. I’ll be reading.

  2. Thank you for the student posting.
    Where is the origin of this proposal? Rumors of lawsuits, previous illness have been heard.
    I feel allergies are a concern that most parents I know take charge of for their child and teachers have done a wonderful job of monitoring over these many decades that our children have been eating together. I haven’t seen a nut in a long time at school. But my son took a peanut butter sandwich to school today….will the district eliminate sack lunches as this is a risk.
    I guess I am confused about the purpose. If the purpose is to improve the health of our children through public policy on food at the school then I think most parent will laugh at this as the food in the lunchroom is hardly healthy, in fact it’s awful. I would rather the district adopt the healthy eating program that Appleton has if that is the issue. And increase the amount of recess.
    A teacher and I were laughing that I could bring a snack of “Hostess ding dong’s” into her class room under this policy but not homemade apple muffins! Now that’s healthy.
    If the issue is Legal covering potential lawsuits, then I think it is a sad, sad day. We would need to eliminate recess, food, PE, sharp objects, stairs, sack lunches, (and of course other students as they are the greatest vector of germs) etc……the school is full of potential lawsuits. I want the school to provide a diverse, exploratory education for my child not a neurotic “Brave New World” of isolation to eliminate potential risk.
    I empathize with the district as lawsuits are a great concern to many institutions and businesses. I suggested for the pet policy we cover our tush by posting huge signs at the front of the school, and we could just leave space to add items as Legal comes up with new risk. Sample for the front door:
    (Space for new risk)

  3. I can understand why an MMSD administrator would want to be careful about allowing home-made foods to be given to an entire class. All it takes is one unsanitary parent to get a whole group of kids ill. However, commercial food prep is just as dangerous!
    My larger concern is that this will prevent teachers from selling commercial snacks during breaks in our middle school. Individual classrooms make money doing this, and that money pays for special projects- you know, the money that the MMSD doesn’t have anymore due to budget cuts. In a poor school, where parents don’t contribute to the school economy, this will cause more harm. Hell, it will cause harm to every PTO- how can we do a cake walk unless we pay Copps for the cakes? How can we make food for the staff (instead of paying cash for it at some store)?
    Last year, the Madison Health Dept. contacted me to talk about healthy eating habits at Black Hawk. They did a survey and decided that our students ate too much junk food. They said we exacerbated the problem by selling it to them. My reply was simple: many of these kids WON”T GET ANYTHING TO EAT if they don’t get what teachers dole out in class. Mom and dad don’t feed them breakfast; they detest the food service chow line; they get an orange during after school programs.
    So in my opinion, this might be a misguided effort by a few to push their agenda (or simple fears) on the majority. Johnny, maybe you can ask the powers that be to detail any and all incidents of illness by home-made foods in the past 5 years. Then let’s compare that to incidents of illness from MMSD Food Service. This will tell us the reality of the threat.

  4. Districts are required by federal law to establish a local school wellness policy by the start of the 2006-2007 school year if they participate in the national school lunch and/or breakfast programs. There are many mandatory requirements and many guidelines that are suggested, but not mandatory. It is, however, a new mandate that requires districts to formally set standards on nutrition and wellness much more extensively than was the case previously. This is a major undertaking nationwide.
    For information on this topic, please see DPI page on School Wellness Policy. ( If you follow the array of links, you will find answers to many of these questions and also a sense of how much is involved with this project.
    I’m not directly involved with the development of wellness policies (and I’m not complaining!), but I do know that districts do need to adopt specific nutrition guidelines for a la carte, fundraisers, vending machines, meetings, etc. Specific to the fundraising issue raised in the original post, the mandate is that decisions be based on nutrition goals, not profit. This is a topic of discussion nationally, not just for MMSD.
    I know that districts have some flexibility in the specific provisions in the wellness plan, but one must be adopted and there are some set requirements on what the plan must include.

  5. Sounds like public discussion at a board meeting prior to any draft policies coming forward would be helpful especially with this upcoming deadline. I couldn’t find if there has been any update on this requirement given at a School Board meeting; and I couldn’t find out what, if any, food policies the School Board has in place that would guide the development of this document. Anybody help me out here?

  6. I’m surprised and disappointed that no one has been in touch with the large number of parent groups who host potlucks as a way of building community, or host pasta nights for student athletes.
    This feels like a budding case of unintended consequences because of poor communications.

  7. I was at one of those parent-district staff meetings, and some of these things posted by the student (Jeff?) surprise me as allegedly coming out of that meeting. The parent who was present whose child has very serious peanut allergy, sounded as though she would simply like to see the education and/or notification of teachers and school health personnel as to the presence of kids with food allergies, so they can deal immediately with any exposures that do accidentally occur. Her child, for example, literally had her own space at the end of a lunch table, so that there was no chance of her being exposed (directly) to any nut products anyone brings in their lunch, etc. They already post (the district) whether there are nuts, milk, pork, etc. in school lunches for any given day. Ths parent seemed to be as comfortable as she could be with what had been worked out at their school (for one thing, a “nut free” classroom), given that this is a life-threatening problem for her family. They realized taht there are risks every in the world, and they are doing their best to protect where they can, and inform where they must.
    As for no food sales at all (except by Eatery products)? None of us was very happy about hat sort of draconian policy. We brought up a number of concerns that they said they would work on details for. And specifically about bringing Hostess snack cakes instead of homemade treats for special classroom occasions? We were all adamant that – as long as health concerns in terms of allergies could be addressed classroom-by-classroom – there was n excuse for not allowing parents to send in apples or homemade bread, but allowing such garbage disguised as snack foods.
    And the snack foods that kids can buy (on a very limited basis, at some of the high schools) from vending machines? None of us thought that snack fods in vending machines was a good idea, because students often spend their lunch money on donuts, snack cakes, chips, and the like if they are available, and do not buy anything halfway decent for lunch instead. Yes, they know that lunch foods offered through the district are not always as healthy as they could be – they said they were trying to address those conerns. But they also point out that AS A WHOLE those meals meet or exceed nationally-set nutritional standards for the lunch programs. The problem comes when that is the only food kids get all day, and/or they eat very little of what is in the prepared lunch, and throw most of it away. It is hard to make foods on a huge scale like that that are high in nutritional value and low in fats and sugars. There were several involved parents present who had more extensive info on those matters than I possibly could, and they knew more about the WI Homegrown Lunch initiatives too, and how they would be affected by the changes proposed.
    Kids will get mad if they are told they can’t buy junk during the day. Kids do need to learn to make good choices by practicing choices every day. How to get them to prefer the healthier choices is a problem. The school district cannot deal efficiently with lifetime patterns set at home (especially by the time sudents are in high school). They try by setting policies, and those policies have requirements that they are trying to meet. I do not envy them their job. There were parents present with differing views on almost every aspect discussed. And I, for one, do not think that doing away with homemade foods is an answer, and especially not if you have an established tradition of offering diverse foods at pot lucks or student fairs.
    For what it’s worth – from a parent who was present at the meeting.

  8. Johnny: I am sure when you were at West, you had vending machines. I know that at LaFollette we did and I am older than you.
    Let’s look at this picture. But as a whole, kids are not taught about nutrition at all through elementary school. I don’t know what the public schools teach but I assume that it may be taught some in a FACE class, then finally in high school 9th grade they are in a health class. By this time most if not all the public schools have open campus. So, if the high schooler can’t purchase a bag of chips at school, he is going to walk down the street and purchase the bag of chips. The kid is now outside on a wonderful day eating his bag of chips and drinking his soda. Should he run back to school so he isn’t late for class, or soak up some rays during 6th period. I don’t know what the attendance records are for kids in the high schools, but I would be looking at the situation, do we try to keep him on campus and offer the chips or have him go off of campus and buy the chips. Either way, if a high schooler wants them they will get them. I don’t understand the why this is such a debate, with good education from schools and parents, kids would know how to choose wisely. In fact in most businesses that I have been in, there are junk food choices, we can’t keep kids in a glass bowl and then send them into the world at 18 and expect them to make decisions if they haven’t been making decisions in high school. If the choice is having kids starve because they don’t like the food choices or eating a slab of pizza and a glass of soda for lunch, I would choose the second. Granted this isn’t as healthy, but MMSD counts ketchup as a vegetable, lets get real.
    As for the snack situations in elementary level, that is a different situation. I have seen it where kids share snacks (bring in crackers for everyone) and some families are great at taking their turns, others are not. You also have families who can’t afford to send in those extra things (some families don’t even have the school get their school supplies so why would you expect them to be able to send in snacks). It got to be where only a few families were constantly bringing in anything. I have also seen it where kids are to bring in there own snacks. Some have something to eat, and others don’t. Is this fair specially when it may be a poor child whose family can’t afford buying a snack? And then some kids will bring in a big bag of chips for the week. Just because someone purchases cupcakes at Copps, doesn’t mean they have a cleaner kitchen or better food preparation handling than I do. I use to work in fast food and saw some things that make me not want to eat out. I don’t think that there is any easy way of working this situation out.
    Alergy situations in a school are on a very different level. I had two students in my class last year who had peanut allergies. They were both minor in allergies and having them at a separate table worked for them. But some kids are seriously allergic and peanut butter and can have a reaction with just a granola bar opened in the room. So this has to be on an individual by individual basis. I know of a school in Verona which is completely peanut free. So no child can bring in a peanut butter cookie, anything made with peanut oil including some gummi bears. I would assume that the school is over reacting, but on the other hand, if it was your child who had the allergy from a life or death situation. In fact just a few weeks ago there was an article of a child who died after kissing her boyfriend who happened to have a peanut butter sandwich at lunch time.
    I feel that food within the classroom/school needs to be on an individual basis and the district shouldn’t make a blanket policy. I also feel that the high schools should allow kids to purchase junk food. These kids will either bring it from home or buy it off campus anyway. So, if the district is able to make a little money, what is really the harm. Kids need to start making some choices without their parents helicoptering over them before they enter the real world.

  9. I am glad to see all the discussion about food in the schools. I think the general public has been taken advantage of by alot of the big food corporations. They agree to place vending machines so we can raise much needed money for our schools. If many of the corporations (food corps included) would pay their fair share in taxes (ie do away with corporate welfare) then would we be needing to raise extra money? No, instead we let them come into our schools where they can target a market that, if captured, could be a customer base for a lifetime! All so we can have money for our schools. There is something wrong with this picture. Read Fast Food Nation by E. Schlosser. If even 1/10 of this book is true it is appalling. France has recently banned all junk food from their schools and is making it a national priority to fight obesity. THe 2 biggest break throughs (N Kristoff NYTimes Jan 31, 2006 op ed page) in improving Americans health over the last couple of decades was higher cigarette taxes and manditory seat belt laws and improvement in auto safety. Health experts are suggesting to improve Amer. health we need to ban soda and potato chips and other junk food from schools and discourage them in the work place…tax junk food, expand P.E. (others are listed for non school environs).
    So, what is the harm in selling junk food in school ? We as a nation will be paying for those plagued with obesity and /or diabetes through increased health care cost, lost productivity and decreased tax base..both obesity and diabetes are becoming epidemic sooo we all lose on this venture if we don’t stand up and say enough already!

  10. The school board actually took the vending machines out before I got to high school because of health concerns. I attended West in 1982 and graduated in 1986 (Wow – 20 year reunion this year!). Students had to go down the street to the “Regent Market” or “Shoppes” to get junk food. Or before school and at lunchtime at the “Moosehead Shedd.”
    I really appreciate the discussion. I think this proves how difficult school policy making truly is. On one hand you have health and wellness concerns and on the other – financial impacts and limited community building options.
    Maybe there’s a compromise down the middle… I said this during the Pet Policy debate as well.

  11. The decisions the board has to make are value judgments, and board decisions should reflect the values of the community.
    In this case, the board has to decide which the community values more: income from junk food or healthy diets for kids in school.
    Personally, I choose healthy diets, and I suspect the broader community does too.
    In the case of heterogeneous vs. homogeneous classrooms, the choice of values lies between heterogeneous classrooms as an end in and of themselves or challenging academics for all students — both the struggling and the advanced.
    In this case, I choose challenging academics for all students. That means teaching the struggling students to read, for instance, and giving the advanced kids college-level reading.
    Unfortunately, the board’s stance so far favors heterogeneous classrooms and dismisses the community’s clear placement of a higher value on challenging academics.
    I expect board members to reflect community values, not the choices of the so-called education experts.

  12. Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch has been working for the past 3 years to influence the amount fresh local foods served in Madison’s school lunches. In that time, we have also spent hundreds of hours in classrooms bringing fresh fruits and vegetables and food system lessons to students in the district.
    We have participated in two of the ‘listening sessions’ regarding the Food Policy to offer our input and have posted on our website a letter that was sent to district administrators, our policy recommendations, and a number of other examples and resources related to Wellness Policies ( We invite everyone to look these recommendations and background information over and offer your reactions in order to create more dialog.
    We’re pleased this important policy is being discussed in this forum and hope that the public discussion continues to grow. Below we’ve copied the letter we sent to Frank Kelly (Food Service Director) and Freddi Adelson (Health Services Coordinator) regarding the Food Policy.
    February 15, 2006
    Dear Mr. Kelley and Ms. Adelson,
    Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the input sessions related to the Food Policy that the Madison Metropolitan School District is creating. We would like to elaborate on our comments made at those sessions and to offer specific policy recommendations on behalf of the Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch Project (WHL). Since the Food Policy that is adopted will have a lasting impact on students’ health, eating habits, and ability to learn, we think that its development should receive broad public comment. To that end, we will encourage discussion of food policy issues by sharing this letter and our policy recommendations with teachers, staff, school board members and parents in the district.
    We are confident that many positive changes in the school food environment will result from your work on this Food Policy, including the limitation of candy sales and the discouragement of using unhealthy foods as rewards, incentives, or as teaching tools in the classroom.
    As you know, school districts around the country are adopting food policies that are founded upon the following core principles:
    • Healthy children are the foundation of a healthy society;
    • Healthy, well-nourished children are better able to learn;
    • All children deserve nutritious, safe, and deliciously prepared food;
    • Eating habits developed in childhood will affect health throughout life;
    • Knowledge of food—how it is grown, who grows it, how it is prepared, and its connection to
    tradition —is integral to a healthy education.
    Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch is committed to advocating for such a forward thinking policy for Madison. We seek a commitment from the district to provide more fresh food opportunities for students, both in the school meals program and in the classroom. We believe there is a deep need to provide quality food education to students since less than 15% of them eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables and 1 in 3 are likely to contract Type II diabetes in their lifetimes. The best way to provide fresh food education, particularly to younger students, is through hands-on and mouths-on learning such as that offered by the Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch program, the UW Extension Nutrition Education program, and many of the district’s nutritionally oriented teachers.
    There is understandable concern about food safety issues and a definite need to address those concerns. There are a number of ways to do this without compromising the quality of the food education that students receive. We think that any effort to improve the nutritional quality and safety of foods available in the classroom must not restrict the ability of parents and teachers to provide healthy, fresh foods from home.
    We also think this district Food Policy should strongly address the quality and content of the school district’s meal program. We have compiled a number of policy suggestions related to the school food environment, including a variety directed to the food service operation. Clearly, given current infrastructural and budgetary conditions, not all of these could be implemented immediately. Nevertheless, we think that it is very important for the MMSD to make a strong and clear statement regarding its commitment to our children’s health. By setting a strong policy and then identifying the opportunities and resources necessary to implement that policy, a clear message can be communicated to decision-makers at the local, state, and federal level on what it would take to provide healthier options to students.
    We have identified numerous examples of language that other school districts have utilized in the policies that they have adopted. We will welcome the opportunity to continue to work with you to share those models and to recommend language for Madison’s Food Policy.
    We see development of Madison’s Food Policy as an important opportunity for the district to go beyond USDA requirements and to become a leader in the effort to improve the diets and academic performance of our children. We intend to be as involved in this policy process as we are allowed to be, and we plan to engage the broader school community as much as seems appropriate to help shape this policy.
    Thank you.
    Doug Wubben, WHL Program Coordinator
    Gill Davidson, WHL Education Coordinator
    Miriam Grunes, REAP Executive Director
    Jack Kloppenburg, UW Professor of Rural Sociology

  13. The basic process of improving the nutrition of school children in school buildings has become so difficult given the competing interests of the food industry (think Sysco and Coca-Cola), local providers like Rocky’s, USDA and its cheap subsidized food products like potato nuggets, students who will defend their junk food at any cost, and the agricultural industry. Our current school food system eliminates local farmers, the source of the healthiest food, in favor of large corporations that can undersell healthy options. It’s time to do what is right rather than what is cheapest. We teach our children the worst nutritional lessons everday at breakfast and lunch. Please support these policies and push them further.

  14. It’s not the school’s job to provide junk food and snacks and soda pop to our students. Even if the district makes money off of these items, the food policy should reflect the important role that our schools play in teaching our children what it means to live well in a community. –Be healthy. Be active. Learn. Take part in your community. Take an interest in your own work.
    “Junk” foods fuel the instant gratification mentality that is necessary to maintain a consumption-based economy. The MMSD food policy should reflect higher goals — modeling and supporting the expansion of a sustainable economy. The Farm to Schools program needs to be expanded to include all schools in the district. By learning about eating what we grow, and growing what we eat, the children who have experienced this program have become importantly connected to one the most basic functions of our community’s economy – feeding them!
    This is not a new idea. In founding the first college for former slaves, Booker T. Washington instituted a policy that required daily farm labor from each student. This was not simply an economic boost to the college. He wrote quite eloquently about how important it was for students to engage in all aspects of their personal development – not just “book learning.”
    Although our community keeps letting our children down by claiming “budget constraints! budget constraints! budget constraints!” we should first write policy that reflects our aspirations and goals. And then, we do the problem-solving it takes to make it work financially.

  15. Check out the op-ed in today’s New York Times, by Alice Waters It’s called “Eating for Credit” and in Waters writes, “Fifty years ago we had a preview of today’s obesity crisis…and we did something about it, at great expense. We built gymnasiums and tracks and playgrounds. We hired and trained teachers. We made physical education part of the curriculum from kindergarten through high school.” She goes on to make the case for doing the same today with food and nutrition what we did for physical education years ago: make the study and practice of eating well part of the core curriculum for all students from kindergarten through high school. “Such a move will take significant investment and kind of resolve that this country showed a half-century ago.”
    We all know that the problems–childhood obesity, low academic performance, corporate takeover of school foods, and on an on–are grave. Let’s “get real” and dig in to do the hard work to address these problems. We need a strong, comprehensive MMSD policy about food–and food education–in schools. I support the recommendations developed by the Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch Project.

  16. I’m a true believer in Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch and all that it represents for our kids AND our farmers–a direct connection between farm and table, an understanding for kids of where their food comes from, and a direct market for healthy food for kids. What could be better? I think everyone involved in the project, including the district, has been doing a good job of identifying obstacles and handling them.
    As a parent I believe one of the worst lessons our kids learn in elementary and middle schools is to shovel in their food. With 15 minutes for lunch (many of those minutes having to be spent in a long lunch line if they’re getting hot lunch), they often wind up with 5 or fewer minutes to eat. There’s no way for them to truly learn to enjoy their food. I just published an op-ed on this in the New York Times (“ Go With Your Gut,” 2/20/06) because I feel strongly that one of the most basic lessons we can teach our kids is to enjoy what they eat and eat a variety of foods.
    I also think we can do a better job of nutrition education in middle school. When one of my daughters was a Hamilton recently, what they learned to “cook” in FACE class was pathetic: soda (!!) and boxed, packaged stuff. Our family made pancake mix from scratch and sent it in along with directions for how to add the eggs, milk, etc., and cook it, and it was a big deal! And I thought, What are they learning in this class??

  17. Children’s behavior and ability to learn are undisputedly linked to a healthy diet. It is nationally recognized by the government, leading to the reforms we have going on now.
    In light of this, we may be short sighted in trying to save some money now at the expense of our children’s education and health. On the issue of money, what is the cost of this sacrifice? Children who have poor diets are inattentive, absent, and encounter more discipline problems. Central Alternative School in Appleton, WI found that, although they lost money when taking the vending machines out, this was more than offset by the reduction in vandalism, litter, and security costs. (
    We are giving a double message to our children by telling them to eat healthy then surrounding them with unhealthy choices. We stress the importance of a healthy diet yet we are unable to offer them a nutritious lunch. My concerns run even deeper in the elementary schools where many students do not have a choice in what to eat.
    I am confident our community can make it work. If our children cannot sell candy to raise money for student organizations, they will sell wrapping paper. If we encounter additional costs in offering our children fresh and minimally processed foods, perhaps we reduce waste by giving them a choice in what goes on their lunch plate instead of prepackaging it.
    This is a quality of life issue. We cannot in good conscious block a District Food Policy over semantics or a lack of imagination on how to make it work. It may need fine-tuning, but we are headed in the right direction.

  18. Wi. Homegrown Lunch was fabulous at Black Hawk last year..however, we lost our funding for FACE, and a few other constraints made it tough to have them back at our school. For me, the bottom line is practicality, and I’m much more concerned about financing real needs in our building than I am about junk food.
    Parents are responsible for their kids’ caloric intake. So long as the MMSD’s food service is providing whatever the standard is in that area, I don’t see a huge need to waste time and money arguing about it. You’ll never stop staff (or parent groups, for that matter) from selling treats to pay for their classroom needs, so long as the MMSD refuses to pay for said needs.
    This hauntingly reminds me of the debacle discussion about lengthening the lunch period. In the end, we found out that it would cost over a million dollars…IMHO, we have more pressing needs in our schools.

  19. As a parent of two children soon to enter the MMSD schools, I strongly support the efforts and recommendations of Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch with regard to the MMSD health and wellness policy. MMSD is an institution of learning. It’s purpose is to educate, inspire, dare I say aspire to enlighten, to lead. It is quite simple to me; the importance we as adults focus on the nourishment of our children reflects how we value them-as individuals, as our future, as agents of progressive change for our culture. Let’s feed them as well as we, with all our collective might, creative energy, and community resources, possibly can. And in the process, let’s not overlook the incredible teaching opportunities we have at hand in the present moment, to discuss this important topic with its myriad connections with the students at every grade level. The connections between how we treat our bodies and how we treat the earth. What are the implications of eating fresh vs processed foods on our bodies? on the environment? the local economy? What would happen if we did the right thing, here?
    I respectfully, but strongly disagree with David Cohen who stated that we have more pressing needs in MMSD. Among the most pressing needs in our schools is to assure that students can learn effectively by offering only the highest quality, nutritious foods to children while at school. By being more responsible caretakers of children’s diets at school, the district has a powerful opportunity to level the playing field and reduce the achievement gap. Well nourished children are healthier and learn better. When children are at school, the only food they should have access to, whether brought in as a treat, sold as a fund raiser, or served in the hot lunch line, should edify the child’s body, just as the teacher’s lesson should edify their minds. (It doesn’t take too much creativity to turn a candy or cookie sale into a fresh fruit sale-it’s been done time and again. The results – happy children, successful fundraiser, and …. compost. Just a suggestion).
    In closing, I urge the committee charged with drafting these recommendations to consider the far reaching nature of their work and the opportunity this policy portends for positive change for our children’s sake. I further urge the board to be bold in it’s actions to assure the health and opportunities to learn unimpaired of our children. (Poor nutrition is a powerful impairement). Parents who work hard to teach their children good nutrition values at home should not be faced with working at cross purposes with the school district. It is appropriate for us to provide a consistent message to our children.

  20. When I spoke to my kids’ pediatrician about the current school menu, she suggested no more than 2 school lunches each week. We were both surprised to learn that there’s not even a kitchen in my daughter’s school–no more than a sink, small counter, and fridge. Little TV tray-style lunches wrapped in plastic and foil are not proper nutrition. And let’s not even talk about the breakfast choices–I can’t imagine being a kid trying to learn with a stomach filled with most of the breakfasts offerings.
    My first grader is now in the habit of wolfing down her meal at least twice as fast as the rest of us–a habit learned in school with the pressure of a short lunch and peers wanting to go out for recess. I know she and her classmates swap food–but at the least I can try to send her with some good choices and good information.
    We live in a community surrounded by farms with a history rich in farm families. We can do better than this.
    If we were talking about math we’d say let’s teach them the facts, drill them on it, and allow them to apply it to, say, balancing their checking accounts as they will. So let’s teach them the facts of nutrition, drill them on it, and allow them to apply it or not outside of school as they choose. Our kids are running into enough persuasion from junk food advertisements without having to encounter it in school as well. And if that means the older kids will be walking to convenience stores and local restaurants for their food–well, at least they’ll be getting some exercise in the process.
    I’ve read about the Appleton school experiment as well, and have great hopes for our application of their findings in Madison. Our kids deserve us to expect the best of them and work for their best, too.

  21. I suggest that everyone do a project where you spend $5 at the store to feed a family of four.
    This has to be healthy, well balanced meals. You have to purchase every ingredient, not assume that there is something in the refrig. or pantry. Try to get as much as you can so maybe you can and get as close to $5 as possible. See what you can purchase. Then donate this to the food pantry along with any change.
    As you do a project like this, it is hard to purchase enough variety and pick foods that your family will eat. You couldn’t purchase really any meat besides maybe tuna. So you pick up a few cans of tuna. Then bread, you couldn’t afford Brown Berry, you have to go with the generic loaf which isn’t as healthy, mayo and maybe pickle relish. I don’t know the cost of this, but I would think this is already over the limit and guess what. This is basically 1 sandwich for each family member and that is all they get.
    Schools are on a budget like this. You and I can go out and buy healther choices, and should. The schools are dealing with a number of families who can not afford to purchase their lunches so this is cut into their budget also I would assume. The schools also have to make food that kids will eat. Even though Broccoli is very healthy, it doesn’t make any sense for them to make it and have every kid but one throw it away. Most kids won’t just eat anything put infront of them. I have worked during lunch hours for years. You would be amazed at how much food is thrown away. Yes sometimes, it is because the food is awful, but other times, it is the broccoli or cooked carrots. Schools have to serve food that people are willing to purchase. If the menu is rice in chicken, the kids would get a nice serving of rice, but only a couple small pieces of chicken. You have to look at costs and chicken is expensive. In MMSD, families have the luxury to purchase food that day, so the kitchens have to guess on their numbers. And if you go to the idea of purchasing meals ahead of time, what about Sally who forgot to grab her lunch, shouldn’t she be able to eat and bill the family? Are you willing to pay $5-6 for your kid’s lunch so they eat “healther” and help pay for those who can’t afford it? And will you be willing to be there to make sure the kid eats the food?
    For some families yes, they need this food because this may be the only reliable meals they get in a day. For others, I am sorry, but it is a priviledge to have the luxury on not having to pack Johnny’s lunch. So, for the child who is free and reduced, isn’t it better to give him something that is semi-nutritious and have him eat it rather than not eat anything?
    I do feel that kids are rushed eating, specially in the early grades. They either have peer pressure rushing them through so they can go out and play or the adults telling them to move on. When kids are done eating there are food fights, or other mischievious things done because the kids are suppose to sit and wait. They don’t have time to eat everything they should, and sometimes it is because the child is talking or screwing around rather than sitting down and eating. On the other hand, having worked lunches, you have the child who takes 4 bites of a sandwich and is full. Maybe they are worried about a sick parent, or a test, or even just not hungry. Someone can encourage them to eat, but how much do you want the kid to keep eating when they aren’t hungry or feeling ill(and often kids don’t realize that they are starting to get sick). A lunch person can’t force a child to eat, nor should they. (Specially seeing how much food some parents pack in a lunch at times). Last year I had a wealther educated family allow their 5 year old to pack her own lunch of mashmellows and cookies. Yes that was it.When I talked to the parent, they found it funny, my hands where tied.
    Someone mentioned that they don’t have a problem with kids in high school leaving the campus to go pick up their soda and candy bar because at least they are walking to the store or restaurant. But actually, often they are driving a group of kids. And what else are they doing during this time. They may be doing drugs, breaking into a homes, vandalizing, etc. What happens when these kids are in a serious accident as the child who was hit near West Towne this past fall. This isn’t a good option in my view.When I drop my kids off for school, I want to know that they are safe, not being unsupervised. There have been a number of studies where it has been shown that when teenage kids get together, there is one brain between the whole group. They will do stupid things and not think.
    Nutrition education has to start at home and if people don’t like the lunch choices, they have the choice of not taking them. Kids can bring in a cold lunch or a thermos with warm soup in it. I know of families where the kids choose water over soda at birthday parties. Our community can not rely on the schools to have to do all the education.
    Because of time constrants with buses, schools can’t offer longer longer times to eat. They offer a number of recesses during the day so kids can run around and get physical exercise or just a mental break. They also have organized time in gym.
    I do feel that schools should educate more about healthy choices. But when and where do they stop? They have dentists come in and teach them how to brush their teeth, encourage kids to run and play rather than sit in the corner by the door. They try to offer a variety of foods and unfortunately because of the costs of food, they do have limited choices. Kids aren’t going to remember something that is told to them once. So, is the teacher suppose to take one reading period or math period a week to talk about healthy choices? Some may say this should be a science subject. Okay, so they spend 3 weeks on the topic, is this going to be it? You wouldn’t expect kids to remember their math facts with only 3 weeks and never revisit it, I feel that this is also true about nutrition. If a teacher is a vegetarian, should they be telling kids why they shouldn’t eat meat? Or vice versa, if the family is vegetarian, do you want the child to hear, that in order to have a well balance meal he/she needs to eat meat. What about the nutrition during different religious holidays. I think it is very hard to say what is appropriate and what isn’t and that it does really rely on families to educate their own children.
    I feel that lunch meals need to be catered to those who can’t afford it and food that they will eat. Granted, pancakes or waffles are not real healthy, but for the child whose meals all day are those that are supplied at school, it is better to give them something they will eat and hold them over vs. them not eating anything first thing in the morning.
    I encourage you to try the $5 project, and purchase nutritions snacks on a very regular basis for your child’s class. To me, this is how you can help the schools teach about nutrition. Bring veges in and see what is eaten (and the costs to do this for a class). Suggest the principal put in the newletter ideas for healther cold lunch ideas that are suggested by the parents. Not all parents have the same view on what is healthy. As it has been said, “it takes a village to raise a child”. There are many things I feel that families can do to help with the education of nutrition.

  22. In reading all these comments, I have seen no one speak to the issue of microwaving all the plastic containers that MMSD uses for its food service. It is a known fact that microwaving these types of plastics allows the estrogen-mimicing chemicals in the plastics to transfer to the food in the container. These types of chemicals greatly increase the risk of acquiring diabetes, heart disease, and obesity in one’s lifetime. This is researched fact. Why then does the district continue to use and microwave these containers, thus polluting our children’s bodies? This practice needs to end!

  23. Lincoln is one of the schools in the Homegrown Lunch Program and we regularly offer them bags of fresh carrot coins and apples for snack, and they are gobbled up. Many of our kids seldom see fresh fruit and vegetables. Potlucks and food offerings during the school day are separate issues. At the elementary level, we see kids who walk come with Flaming Hots and Mountain Dew for breakfast. A few days ago while reading with a group of fourth graders we came to the word ‘dew’. I asked if anyone knew what that was. The only answer was the soda. I have often said, not jokingly, that the quick stop food places around the schools should be barred from selling junk food before 8:30 am each day. These are kids who should be coming in for breakfast, but they pass it up because they’ve already had their version. And then we’ll see the same things come out of the backpacks for snack!
    Home baked treats are not even that common…as one writer noted, she could bring in Hostess cupcakes but not homemade oatmeal cookies. Junk food from the store is a far worse concern than what appears to be on the school board’s menu of worry.

  24. Studies done by the Appleton School District are some of the best in the nation regarding student performance and it’s relationship to what they eat. In Appleton they found that by changing the diet of students from sugar and salt to nutritious food raised by local farms dramatic improvements in student academic performance and behavior was realized. It is true that we are what we eat! Search on Natural Ovens Bakery to find out about this unique partnership and the dividends that it payed.
    What has the MMSD learned from these studies?
    Recently, the McFarland School District worked with a class from the UW to start a transition to a healthy and nutritious school lunch program. MMSD should be doing the same thing.
    Any food policy is incomplete without a plan on how to move the district to a more nutritious and healthy program. This plan should also include the use of local farms, which is something that we as a district should be supporting.

  25. While soda and junk food get all the press, I have a few odd concerns about the food policy that may not get much press.
    My son did a study of Mexico this year. At the end we (students, teacher and parents in the classroom) made traditional Mexican food for the class and discussed their relation to the subject. Last year my other sons class did a study of China and they too experienced a Chinese lunch at the end of this study. Many of these students had never eaten foods from other countries and they were very excited to try these new flavors. With the current policy this would no longer be an option for learning.
    Also, while trivial, this policy would also eliminate the teacher appreciation lunches we parents provide for our staff. It is a small gesture on our part to say thanks but would be taken away from our school.
    These are not soda issues but other issues that should be part of the mix in discussing food policies.

  26. I strongly feel that schools should use every feasible option to encourage healthy eating (both at school and for life). Filling up on sugar and caffeine gives a quick energy burst followed by a crash, making kids hungry, irritable, and tired. Healthy foods (fresh produce, whole grains, foods high in protein) release energy more slowly, providing the energy kids need to be alert and to learn. I do not believe that food is a “side” issue to education; I am convinced it is one of the keys to good learning and behavior.
    Many people suggest that if schools don’t offer junk food items, students will get them elsewhere. This feels off to me; after all, kids can get street drugs easily if they want them, but the school district is not about to put drugs in vending machines and use the profits to supplement educational programs. As parents and educators, we need to point children towards the path we want them to take, even though they may stray from that path. This means not deliberately offering unhealthy food selections in school.
    I sincerely hope that those in charge of the district food policy will take their task as seriously as any other educational issue.

  27. I strongly agree with Mary Battaglia’s concerns. Food is a way to impart and bring discovery and understanding to the classroom.
    Our elementary and middle schools both have hosted International Fairs where food is a common element. Learning about bread; how it is prepared, served and savored by different ethnic groups connects us.
    Just the other day my daughter commented on how her devoted teacher brought scones and tea for the class to enjoy as they studied England. It would diminish the classroom experience to legislate out that type of sharing.

  28. All children, elementary through high school deserve a healthy, fresh school lunch. I support the Homegrown School Lunch and the lunch program offered by Appleton public schools with Natural Ovens Bakery.
    I do not wish to gamble our children’s health and well-being on short-sighted, cost and waste intensive food programs. Please stop feeding our children microwaved, pre-packaged, junk foods. The school district’s job is NOT to provide the fastest, least staff intensive food experience. Children need to see food prepared and eaten respectfully, not dispensed from a machine.
    Whole grain, homemade food does not have to be expensive (or dangerous?!) to prepare or serve. I may take a while to change the culture of Madison schools to make it work, but we need to do it for the sake of the children. I’m willing to work to make it happen for our local schools here at Gompers and Black Hawk. My daughter starts kindergarten in 2007.

  29. I strongly support revision of MMSD’s current food policies in order to better serve the students’ health and learning experiences. The work of Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch is exemplary of such change. There are examples of schools and school districts around the country that show the importance of a healthier diet for school age children in their performance and overall well-being.
    Removing vending machines and limiting ingredients such as sugar, salt, and fat is not extreme by any means. These improvements encourage youth to develop an understanding and appreciation for better, healthier choices. Choices can still exist, but they ought to be comparable, healthy choices. Eliminating sales of candy as a fundraiser or cooking as part of a class is also encouraging healthy lifestyles.
    My young family will be in support of any measures that focus on better health within MMSD’s food policy. It’s better for the students, the environment, and if done right, better for the local economy because we can choose to support our nearby farms.

  30. I strongly support the Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch Program. Getting more fresh local produce into schools is a good thing on many levels: nutrition, familiarity with fresh produce, celebrating good food and gardens, and giving kids the idea that farming as a career option is viable no matter where you live.

  31. MAny good commens. Food policy has many facets: some will be easier to address than others. However, with the issue of what to feed our children, I have found that what is right is not always easy, and I will add, not always the least expensive.
    1. We know healthy food is generally least-processed, fresh produce and usually whole grain. Add preservative free, drug free.
    2. The food industry has turned convenience into an art form. We no longer make soup, it is made for us, with the addition of sodium and preservatives. Compare the sq. footage of boxed food with produce and basic ingredient isles.
    3. The conventional food industry does not favor least processed, fresh, basic food. Even the growing organic/natural food lines are processed. Convenience foods are a higher dollar margin. A farmer recieves around $2.60/bushel of wheat/62 pounds. Wheat cereal is $3.19/14 ounces.
    4.Small and local producers are often unable to bid for school contracts because they are not associated with a specific single service distributor. The UW-Madison lost several local meat providers because of this. I understand it was cost saving administrative decision.
    I am writing as a former teacher who is currently an owner of a small dairy business that produces yogurt. I am becoming much more aware of where food does (and doesn’t) come from and would like to see the school food policy include many local and regional producers in their new food policy statement. WI sustainable agriculture has a future and our children should benefit from it.
    For now, the Home Grown Project is right in using moderation- some convenience and some least processed. This is a good way to introduce new foods and different preparations to students. I would encourage the gradual increase of wholesome and local foods in this endeavor. Children LIKE good food. Introduce it early and often.
    Sincerely, Christine Paris

  32. As a healthcare educator in the field of cardiac rehabilitation, I have seen the devastating effects of poor dietary habits for fifteen plus years. I strongly support the Wisconsin Homegrown lunch program as I believe we as parents and concerned citizens need to educate our children on how to be healthy individiuals. This message certainly contains more power when when presented consistently at school and home. The Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch program is a great example of hands-on education as it educates children about nutritional quality of food, where it comes from, how it is grown in addition to introducing children to a wide variety of foods.
    I believe the cost of supporting this healthful way of eating has the potential to far outweigh the damaging effects of poor dietary habits in the long term.

  33. But should the district BAN kids from eating whatever they want (or whatever their parents/guardian chooses to send with them)? IMHO, that’s draconian.

  34. I agree our society should eat better. A lot of people are talking about HomeGrown lunches and talking about food in the elementary levels. I feel that the author of this original letter was talking about the high school. The Marketing Clubs (DECA) sell snacks and soda in their stores to allow kids business experiences and as a funraiser. At the high schools, kids are allowed to purchase a la cart food. This means that during a pizza day, they can purchase just the pizza, just milk, or just the fruit. If this passes the board, they will not be able to purchase just the slice of pizza anymore. They will either have to purchase the milk and fruit also (and more than likely through them away) or go out for lunch where they can have accidents and cause mischieve while they are off campus.
    The author is also talking about “special holidays” where food would not be able to be brought in to celebrate ‘Cinco de Mayo’ for instance. This would also be affected in the elementary level because I assume birthday treats would not be able to be brought in, not homemade muffins or anything else families donate to the classrooms. At the elementary levels, classrooms would no longer be able to ‘make’ food to try different things that fit into the curriculums. High Schools clubs often have bake sales to raise money and even elementary schools will have bake sales on voting days to raise money would all be eliminated if this passes.
    Someone talked about microwaving meals. The meals are prepared frozen and go to the schools where they are cooked in the oven. They are not microwaved. Also, you need to remember, food is prepared for the thousands of kids in all the MMSD schools at one location. They are not prepared individually at each school. Most if not all schools are no longer set up to prepare lunches from scatch as they were many years ago.
    Lunches are not the discussion for K-5. Their lunches are balanced. The discussion is getting rid of the part of the middle school and high school lunches where kids can purchase parts of the lunches. There also salads, apples, oranges available everyday. If this passes, kids will purchase the full lunch in order to purchase a cookie and will through everything else out. I saw this everyday in the elementary level. We waste so much food as a district already, why encourage the kids to waste even more?

  35. During the past seven months, I have taken the opportunity to spend approximately five minutes daily at the Lapham Elementary lunchroom as well as approximately 20 minutes daily at the Marquette Elementary lunchroom. As far as I am concerned there are an abundance of missed teaching opportunities at both Schools as I’m certain at all schools in the MMSD.
    1. How do we teach recycling to our citizens if we cannot even model this concept at the elementary level?
    2. The same holds true of conservation of resources — ie. prepared foods in the cafeteria
    We waste more food during our American lunch programs daily than most countries with a million or more population consume daily.
    The USDA food allotment program and the WI DPI do not specifically place restrictions on recycling unused sealed foods — Our wonderful MMSD Board policy restricts prepared foods from being recycled or transfered within the lunchroom and collected for redistribution.
    We need not begin talking about the types of food that will be wasted ie. locally grown, etc., high fructose products, etc. until we get a handle on how best to deal with the present resources.
    Frankly, I am sickened by the waste — and let me say — it’s not all the schools’ fault. Parents also must be held accountable and responsible.
    We have a beautiful pallete nevertheless to work with — please let’s cease wasting this educational masterpiece.
    Mike Kohn

  36. Reading the recent Internet postings to the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) regarding the district food policy, it is clear to me that there is no shortage of intellect, creative thought and awareness of the importance and challenges in feeding our children as we prepare them to be the next generation to lead our world. Sadly, I also read evidence that our youth are observing that the food policy gets chewed up in the institutional process, along with other concerns of fairness, legality and budget, and spit back out of the system, perhaps, unrecognizable as a plan to nourish minds and bodies of our next generation and looking like another set of unreasonable limitations that adults make. I offer my perspective to the already thoughtful contributions to this site. This perspective is as a mother of two children who has spent 15 years observing Madison schools and as a scientist with the job of researching diet and its relation to health and aging.
    Over the last month, I have read these postings about feeding our youth, often during breaks from my job of considering how food choices in mid-life influence who will die prematurely from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer or, rather, survive into old age , in which case food choices may influence those who experience degenerative conditions (such as cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis ) that impair our ability to see, think and remain active. These degenerative conditions of aging not not only limit our functioning but also consume enormous societal and personal resources to treat. This juxtaposition in my day, looking at issues of food in youth and later life, remind me that the resources we spend preparing our children to contribute to society are later wasted when their lives are truncated or disabled by death or poor health.
    The diseases I study most (macular degeneration and cataract), like many other chronic and degenerative conditions of aging not only impact the well-being of people and their families, but drive health care costs in our country which spreads it’s influence to many aspects of society. This is a problem that will increase as the baby boomers and their children age in the coming decades, tripling the numbers of us over 75 years of age. Health care costs will compete with state, national and local resources that we would otherwise use to keep our cities and towns working, keep us secure and, importantly to this discussion, to educate tomorrow’s youth. As one example of the huge impact that chronic degenerative conditions of aging have on draining societal resources, consider cataract, which about half of us have or will have has surgery to correct by age 75. The cost of cataract surgery in the United States is the largest single item in the Medicare budget, last time someone checked in the 1990s. It has been estimated that if we could delay the onset of cataracts by only ten years (that research suggests that better diets help to do), then the need for cataract surgeries would be cut in half. This is but one of many possible examples of how food choices which influence chronic conditions of aging can impact overall societal resources in a large way.
    As I spend my time interpreting data and writing editorials about diet and health, and making suggestions about changes that people can make to improve sight into the sixth, seventh and eight decades of life, I often ponder how difficult it is for some of us to change food choices once we are in our fifties and how much more sense it would make to start out with sensible food choices in our youth. I have read recent research that indicates that eating more fruits and vegetables in school years relates to lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer decades later. I observe the waste of money and hope that is spilled into buying vitamin supplements to add a few more years of sight that good food choices might have had a better chance at preserving for many more years. Our societal approach to health and food often seems foolish to me.
    I ponder the difficulty in convincing people to eat fruits and vegetables when those at the supermarket are tasteless and costly, having traveled half way across the world in February. Those in the school lunch lines that could be tasty, coming fresh from local farmers, are usually tasteless and unappealing, as well. I contemplate that my voice, and that of other health professionals, is often drowned out by the noise of tasty high-sugar and high-fat offerings in the supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants and schools. It is increasingly clear to me that the sum total of choices that our society makes in office buildings, urban planning, governmental policies and school have a large impact on our ability to feed ourselves. Sure, the district food policy cannot change all of these societal forces, but what could be better place to start than our school lunchrooms?
    The MMSD food policy is critically important to being able to nourish the minds and bodies of the next generation of people that will lead our society. Several others have emphasized the importance of food to functioning and well-being during hours spent in school. It will also help to determine which capable minds survive long enough to take the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to make important innovations and contributions. It will determine the clarity with which we think and see. It will, in part, determine the strength of our family and workplace units that support our industry and creativity. It will help determine the resources we have left, after expending on urgent health care needs to build, clean, farm, repair, teach and solve the problems of the next generation. Sometimes in the middle of these ponderings, I have paused to help my daughter, a high school senior, with her homework and have thought that learning about the importance of how to feed ourselves in this global economy towers above the relevance of the many lessons we currently teach in schools.
    It can be different. In one Berkeley, California middle school, students earn academic credits for eating a nutritious lunch, and participating in growing and preparing food from their school garden. These students not only take away healthy minds and bodies but lessons about food and nature that will prepare them to make decisions about feeding themselves and their families in this global economy and lessons that they can take about feeding their communities to their voting booths. In our lunchrooms there are also subtle and direct opportunities to teach where our food comes from and how it is produced. We can teach the delicate balance that this process has with the rest of society and the earth. Our youth can take these ideas, along with their skills and knowledge in math, writing, history and science into future boardrooms, research institutions, classrooms, urban planning meetings, industry and farms.
    We have an opportunity to further consider how school lunch experiences might also contribute to a better understanding of the importance of food to an overall healthy society. I am aware of the important inroads that the Wisconsin Homegrown lunch program has made in this educational process and yet how few resources we have devoted to innovative programs like this. We lag far behind most European communities in the quality of food we provide our students and the lessons that we teach them about feeding themselves well into the future. This does not have to be the case and innovative programs have sprung up all over the world to feed our school children with food and important insights about the role of food to health and society. (Jane Goodall’s recent book “Harvest for Hope” details many of these programs and gives a wealth of resources about many more.)
    I applaud the school board for giving this critically important issue substantial consideration. If the postings to this site over the past month are any indication, we have ample bright and creative minds in this community that can do much more. Perhaps some of this debate can proceed in discussion groups outside of specific institutional boundaries that involve both youths and adults. We can educate each other and draw on a diverse expertise and connections in the community to imagine and encourage creative solutions. Perhaps some of us can start school clubs that educate, inform and act. I encourage continued debate in many forms, not only in fulfilling the short-term needs of the district food policy, but also in addressing long-term ideas to the important and increasingly urgent challenging of feeding tomorrow’s minds.
    Julie Mares, Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science and Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs in Nutrition and Population Health, University of Wisconsin

  37. We are two parents who are participants in the John Muir Parent Nutrition Committee, which began meeting in the fall of 2005. We are interested in nutrition, health, and their relationship to school performance. We are concerned about the declining health of children in the U.S. We find it objectionable that decisions are made which impact children’s health based upon short-term concerns versus viewing the longer-term impact, including future health and medical costs.
    We would like to go on record as generally supporting the Wisconsin Homegrown Lunch Food Policy Recommendations. We find the following recommendations particularly important based upon research we did last year:
    1. Offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. (This may be one of the simplest and most effective recommendations for all age groups. In addition, MMSD has a growing number of students with a vegetarian diet and their needs are entirely unmet by the current lunch program.)
    2. Recess for elementary grades should be scheduled before lunch. (This may be the single most effective recommendation for elementary grade levels.)
    3. Substitute highly sweetened items with healthier choices. (If you can provide a granola bar with 13 grams of sugar that tastes good versus one with 20 grams, why wouldn’t you offer the healthier alternative?)
    4. Candy will not be used as an educational tool. (Let’s return to allowing parents to have some control over their children’s diet.)
    5. No soda pop. (If soda pop sales must be retained as a “fund-raiser” we propose that it be restricted to the high schools and that the cost be made exorbitant along the lines of hotel mini-bar prices.)
    Every parent struggles to do the best they can for their children. Here is our opportunity to, in effect, create an environment that improves the probability of children maintaining their health. Let’s not squander the opportunity.
    Mary Lamon-Smith, MS, RD
    Michaela R. Moy

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