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Perspective: Kate Adamick on Food Service

By WorldLink Staff | October 31, 2011 | Leave a Comment

Co-founder of Cook for America® Kate Adamick discusses the vital role food service workers play in creating a healthier school food culture, and feeding and educating the next generation.

Kate Adamick, JD, is a nationally recognized expert in food systems who combines her skills as a both a lawyer and a professional chef to integrate operational changes, school-based programming, and public-private partnerships to implement, reinforce and support the healthful transformation of school meal programs to scratch-cooked meals.

Learn more in Michael Pollan’s School Lunch, Ann Cooper’s Healthy School Food, and Amy Kalafa’s Parents Taking Action.

What’s the relationship between the cafeteria and the classroom?

Kate Adamick: Sadly, the relationship between the cafeteria and the classroom is often nonexistent. All too frequently, school administrators appear to have forgotten that students don’t stop learning just because it’s lunchtime. At Cook for America, we deliberately call the school food service workers “Lunch Teachers” as a reminder to everyone that what students are fed at school teaches them how to think about food, what to think of as food, and how to behave while consuming it—all lessons that they will carry with them for the remainder of their lives.

What challenges do food service workers face in providing healthy, from-scratch meals?

Kate Adamick: “Lunch Teachers,” like the rest of us, are victims of a widespread, corporate-sponsored misinformation campaign designed to convince us that school food reform is too expensive, that kids won’t eat real food, and that preparing meals using raw meat products is dangerous. In reality, none of these perceived challenges turn out to be actual obstacles for most school districts.

One of the genuine challenges, however, is that “Lunch Teachers” have become easy and obvious scapegoats for the high rates of childhood obesity. When the people who are responsible for feeding our children feel blamed rather than empowered, the path to school food reform can be a long one. The national obesity crisis and the poor quality of the average school meal are merely symptoms of America’s broken food system, the myriad causes of which include campaign finance laws, farm subsidies favoring corporate agriculture, and ubiquitous marketing campaigns targeting children. Simply blaming “Lunch Teachers” for those greater societal maladies will not improve the quality of school food or the health of our children.

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