Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Progress on improving the school lunch program

So, a few weeks ago I presented the school board with the petitions that I and my many helpers canvassed around, collecting 428 signatures. Our district has about 3200 students in 7 schools, so I feel like that was a respectable amount.

Despite having my partner-in-change (Laura) with me and our friend and ally (Dana the village trustee) and one other mom who came to support the cause, I was nervous. Hate the public speaking. There were lots of other people there, though! If you've never been to a board of education meeting, I have to say there's a lot you can learn there. It was "The State of the District" presentation night, so there were teachers, the middle school principal (who I didn't know and didn't recognize, which is just as well, which you will see if you read my speech, below), some AAUW people asking for a grant, the local newspaper reporter who was there to do an article on LAURA AND ME, WOOOO, WE ARE FAMOUS, MAN - front page article! Lots of people.

So as always when I'm nervous, I had to read straight off the page. Sigh. Oh well, I am proud of the positive tone, which did not go unnoticed by the superintendent, who remarked on it and on the fact that this was the first grassroots initiative brought to him in his seven years at the district.

This evening I meet with the Asst. Superintendent for Finance and Operations to discuss who will be on the committee. I can't believe this is really moving forward!

Here's my speech:


We believe the district's wellness policy has done a great job of eliminating junk food as a teacher reward, in fundraising, and at school functions. In the latest [district newsletter] it states that the district is prioritizing wellness. It seems like the next logical step is to address the inadequacies of the lunch program.

As you are perhaps have heard, we put together a petition to show you that our community is interested in improving the quality of the lunches served at our schools. PRESENT PETITIONS and DECLARE NUMBER (428 signatures). [Read text of petition]

During discussions that were sparked by this effort, we have learned that we have a community filled with people who want to volunteer their time to improve various aspects of the school nutrition program.
  • We have an executive chef who wants to partner with the schools (chefs move to school program that Michelle Obama started).
  • We also have parents at several schools who would love to start a school vegetable garden, which would enable students to try truly fresh and local foods.

Have a committee to oversee applying for grants and other programs that would benefit the nutritional and physical well-being of the students. We propose that the committee should consist of

  • the middle school principal
  • one of the elementary school principals
  • parents from each school
  • the Food Service Director
  • and a Board of Education representative

The first set of goals includes:

  • Increase the amount of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Decrease the amount of HFCS and hydrogenated oils
  • Give input when the new lunch contract is under discussion
  • Enforce the Wellness Policy during lunch at the middle school
We are also interested in expanding the role of the school district in promoting fitness, including walk and bike to school initiatives and a district-level wellness fair to showcase ideas for healthier families.

We know that solving this problem will entail creativity and flexibility to meet the nutritional guidelines and not overshoot the budget, but we are confident that large improvements can be made without straining the district's finances.

Thank you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Go girl! Don't let them off the hook.