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Perspective: Amy Kalafa on Parents Taking Action

By WorldLink Staff | October 20, 2011 | Leave a Comment

Parents play a crucial role in educating children about good food. Mother and food activist Amy Kalafa shares how parents, kids, and educators can join forces to create a school food revolution.

Amy Kalafa has produced award-winning films, such as Two Angry Moms: Fighting for the Health of America’s Children, and is the author of the new book Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health.

Discover more perspectives on kids’ health in Michael Pollan’s School Lunch, Chef Ann Cooper’s Healthy School Food, and Laurie David’s Healthy Parenting.

Why should parents be concerned about school lunch?

Amy Kalafa: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that this generation of American children will be the first in our nation’s history to live shorter lives than those of their parents. Childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes are at epidemic levels, with 30 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls born in the year 2000 expected to develop type 2 diabetes. The average kid eats 3,000 school meals between kindergarten and the twelfth grade. Even kids who bring their lunch to school often fall prey to the junk food sold in the cafeteria and vending machines. Our schools need to be part of the solution, not the problem.

What role do schools play in teaching healthy eating practices?

Amy Kalafa: Most schools teach kids about good nutrition in health class but don’t practice what they preach at lunchtime. Kids are smart, and those lessons are ineffective if the message isn’t consistent. In districts that take a holistic approach to food education, the cafeteria is integrated with the curriculum and students get connected to their food by growing organic produce in school gardens and classrooms; taking field trips to farms, markets, restaurants, and community gardens; and preparing and tasting meals made from fresh, whole, sustainably farmed ingredients.

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