Time for Lunch

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iStockphoto.com/Carmen Martinez Banus
Support efforts encouraging schools and government agencies to provide more nutritious lunches to students.

Brooklyn, New York – Slow Food USA recently launched Time for Lunch, a national campaign to urge Congress to provide America’s children with real food at school. One of the major milestones for the campaign will be orchestrating more than 100 Eat-Ins in communities across the country on Labor Day, Sept. 7. The goal of the Eat-Ins is to draw attention to the need for real, healthy food for the more than 30 million children who participate in the National School Lunch Program.

The program is part of the Child Nutrition Act that Congress will reauthorize later this year.

“The way we feed our kids is a reflection of our values. We cannot, in good conscience, continue to make our kids sick by feeding them cheap byproducts of an industrial food system,” says Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA. “It is time to give kids real food: food that tastes good, is good for them, is good for the people who grow and prepare it, and is good for the planet.”

With nearly 32 percent of children ages 2 to 19 considered obese or overweight, and one-in three born since 2000 in jeopardy of developing diabetes in his or her lifetime, providing schools with real food is a national priority. (See footnotes.)

The Time for Lunch campaign asks people to contact their legislators and tell them to invest in the health of the nation’s children by allocating $1 more per day per child for lunch. The USDA currently reimburses schools $2.57 for each meal served to a student who qualify for free lunch – most of this covers labor, equipment and overhead costs – but less than $1 goes toward actual ingredients.

The campaign also seeks to protect against foods that put children at risk by establishing strong standards for all food sold at school, including food from vending machines and school fast food. Currently, children can buy overly processed “fast” foods from vending machines and on-campus stores that operate without benefit of federal nutrition standards.

Lastly, the campaign is pushing for the government to provide mandatory funding to teach children healthy eating habits through innovative farm-to-school programs and school gardens.

For more information on Slow Food USA’s petition, proposed updates to the National School Lunch Program, or for details on how to organize an Eat-In on Labor Day, visit the website.

Slow Food USA is a non-profit organization working to create a just and sustainable food system. Slow Food USA has 200 chapters, with more than 50,000 members and supporters in the United States, and is part of a larger 130-country international network. The organization creates youth programs to bring the values of eating local, sustainable and just food to schools and campuses, preserves and promotes vanishing foods and food traditions, and advocates for a national food policy in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet.


C. L. Ogden, M. D. Carroll, and K. M. Flegal, “High Body Mass Index for Age Among US Children and Adolescents, 2003-2006,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 299, no. 20 (2008):2401-2405.

U.S. Census Bureau, “Resident Population Projections by Sex and Age 2005 to 2050,” Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2006. Table 12; Ogden, et al., “High Body Mass Index for Age.”