Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Feeding Our Students Better
In the midst of bailouts and stimulus packages, Alice Waters - founder of Berkeley's Chez Panisse and grand dame of the "Slow Food" Movement - asks an important question: How much would it cost to feed 30 million American school children a wholesome meal? She says it could be done for about $5 per child, or roughly $27 billion a year, plus a one-time investment in real kitchens. A healthy school lunch program would bring long-term savings and benefits in the areas of hunger, children’s health and dietary habits, food safety, environmental preservation and energy conservation. Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture gives public schools cash for every meal they serve — $2.57 for a free lunch, $2.17 for a reduced-price lunch and 24 cents for a paid lunch. In 2007, the program cost around $9 billion, a figure widely acknowledged as inadequate to cover food costs.