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Nearly One Fourth of American Children Live in Poverty, So Why Are Schools Trashing Their Lunches?

When many children are food insecure, for any school to intentionally inflict hunger is indefensible.


What would be the instinct of any normal adult faced with a group of hungry children? To feed them, of course. Especially adults entrusted with the care and well-being of children, by virtue of their employment in a public school. That's why what happened in Utah last week is inexplicable. A cafeteria nutrition manager (a stunning oxymoron), fed up with students' overdue balances on lunch accounts, went to Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City and "seized and trashed" the lunches of about 30 students.

According to Jason Olsen, a Salt Lake City District spokesman, the child-nutrition department realized some students' families had outstanding balances on Monday, but the department's manager wasn't able to notify the school until after lunch had been served on Tuesday. So the department did what any humane, understanding person would do: They snatched the meals from the children and threw them in the trash.

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How a 9-Year-Old Girl's Food Blog Forced Healthier Lunch Options

Never underestimate the power of a blog and a hungry 9-year-old girl.


Martha Payne is a 9-year-old Scottish girl with a taste for good, healthy food. Unfortunately, like so many other children, Payne attends a school that was far less interested than she in what it was feeding her and her classmates each day. Education is a difficult industry, and when it comes to deciding how to spend time and money, food is often low on the list of priorities for administrators. Payne was fed up with meals that at best, weren't nutritious and, at worst, were peppered with stray hairs that weren't hers. That's when she started her blog.

While it's derided by some as a safe haven for bitter layabouts raging in their parents' basement, blogging can actually be a very effective form of protest, and Payne is a perfect example. At the beginning of May, she started NeverSeconds, a food blog dedicated to rating the health and value of her school lunches every weekday. Though it hasn't even been around for a full month, NeverSeconds has already garnered a global readership—kids from as far as Taiwan and the United States are now sending in photos and descriptions of their lunches—and forced the hands of school officials in the process.

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Is America's Favorite Vegetable Making You Fat?

A new study looks at how meat and potatoes affect your waistline in the long run.

We've all heard the dietary advice: Eat less, exercise more. But what if that's not good enough?

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Chicago School Bans Brown Bag Lunches, But Is It for the Kids?

Students at Little Village Academy can't eat anything except the food served in the cafeteria.


Millions of American kids take sack lunches to school every day, either because they don't like the school food or because their parents aren't psyched about the nutritional quality—think tater tots and greasy chicken pattiesoffered on campus. Now in an interesting twist on the lunch debate, a growing number of schools say that their efforts to make mealtime healthier are undermined by parents who pack junk food in their children's lunches.

Six years ago, Little Village Academy, a 100 percent Hispanic pre-K through eighth grade public school on Chicago's West Side, put a stop to junk food coming from home when they banned their 780 students from bringing any lunch, period. Students can't eat anything except the lunch the school provides.

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Feast Your Eyes: What Are French Schoolkids Having for Lunch?

While America's students eat corn syrup and cardboard, French students get organic endive salad and fillet of salmon with a lemon sauce.


Chef and food blogger extraordinaire David Lebovitz tweeted this photo of a weekly lunch menu in a Paris public elementary school. While pizza and chocolate milk are on offer (but only on Wednesday), catering company Sogeres (France's equivalent of Sodexho or Aramark) has laid on such delights as fillet of salmon with a lemon sauce, thinly sliced organic endives, and lentil salad with hard-boiled egg. The four-course meals begin with salad or soup, include a cheese course, and end with a fruit selection on most days, although Thursday's dessert is a delicious-sounding dark chocolate mousse.

It's instructive to compare this with the average American school meal, as, for example, documented by Mrs. Q on her blog Fed Up With School Lunch.

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D.C. Schools: Now Serving Dinner

A growing poverty rate in Washington, D.C. prompted school administrators to begin offering an early supper to many of their students.


A year ago, President Obama said that, for many of the nation's public school students, their school lunch is "their most nutritious meal—sometimes their only meal—of the day." Now, 10,000 kids in the nation's capital are getting an early dinner, in addition to their lunch and breakfast, at school.

According to The Washington Post, a spike in poverty rates over the last three years inspired the nearly $6 million program, which is offering a third meal at 99 of D.C.'s 123 schools.

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