by Jill Richardson
Published April 15, 2009 @ 05:14PM PST
This week we got news of a new appointment at the USDA: Dr. Janey Thornton as Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumers Services. This is the part of the USDA that operates all of the federal nutrition programs - food stamps, WIC, school lunches, etc. I'm told that it's more or less "tradition" to give this one to the School Nutrition Association - and as a former president of the organization, Thornton certainly qualifies. But I would be a lot more enthused about this announcement if either SNA or Thornton seemed to care even slightly about school nutrition! Or even just nutrition!
Let's look at what I might eat if I attended the schools where Dr. Thornton has run the lunch program for 25 years. Today, if I were a high school student, I could get chicken fried steak with gravy, plus my choice of 2 sides (fruit, veggies, salad), and milk. And, yeah - most of that is good stuff. But chicken fried steak? Not so much. I could go for the Wednesday sandwich special instead if I wanted - a chili dog on a bun. Or Wednesday's Italian special - baked ziti with french bread. Or I could head "South of the Border" for some nachos with cheese sauce. These entrees need some work. Nachos isn't a lunch. And a chili dog isn't a healthy lunch. Chili, maybe, depending on how it was made. But not the dog. The dog's not healthy.
How about the elementary and middle schools? Today's breakfast is cereal with graham crackers plus fruit or juice. Kind of a sugar feast, but better than yesterday's french toast sticks, tomorrow's cinnamon roll, or Friday's sausage biscuit. And for lunch I'd be having a chicken pattie on a bun or southwest pizza plus lettuce and tomato slices, assorted fruit, oven fries, seasoned green beans, and a peanut butter cookie. Not so bad, I suppose. Some days the elementary and middle schoolers even get whole wheat buns as part of their lunch. But other days they get hot dogs. And every lunch comes with a cookie.
I don't know what's gone on at Thornton's school, or why these menus are what they are. But I do know what the School Nutrition Association discussed at their conference last year ("A Science-Based Discussion on High Fructose Corn Syrup"), and who sponsored the conference: ConAgra Foodservice, Corn Refiners Association, General Mills Bakeries & Foodservice, Kellogg’s Food Away From Home, Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods, Nestle Waters North America, Simplot, and Tyson Foods to name a few. In my opinion, SNA is too intertwined with the same companies that make the junk food we need to get OUT of our schools. Perhaps this time we should have broken tradition and appointed somebody ELSE to be America's
EXPOSING the FDA and the USDA - Broad Casting here the things that they would prefer us NOT to know about our FOOD & DRUGS & Farming.