|Image from The Food Museum's online exhibit on School Lunch|
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." While reading about the history of the school lunch program I couldn't help but think of the words of Ecclesiastes. Every major issue confronting the program today has been their since its very inception... the surplus commodities, the lack of proper equipment or trained food service workers to prepare nutritious meals, the tensions between running school food service as a business vs. as a public health program. And yet, what is most amazing is how this welfare program has endured despite these deep-rooted flaws.
|What once constituted a "good" lunch - |
not so different from the current USDA requirements
The National School Lunch Program is "arguably the most regulated, thought-about, fought-over and highly planned meal in America." There are so many competing interests and considerations, from cost to labor to reimbursement requirements to dietary guidelines to picky eaters, not to mention the regulations at the federal and state level and from the Department of Health as well. Furthermore, I find this ongoing connection to the DoD, with nutrition and war somehow becoming inextricably linked at once fascinating and troubling. I don't know if a month's time is enough for me to learn the ins and outs of this absurdly complicated program but it's an exciting time to be working in the field and to gain greater insight into the challenges of school lunch.