Back to School: Books Packed With Ideas for Fixing Bad Lunches

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Have you wanted to do something about school meals but didn't know how? Now that you have this list, there are no more excuses.

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If you want to work on improving the meals at your kids' schools, much help is available.  Just in, for example:

From the Center for Ecoliteracy: Rethinking School Lunch: Cooking with California Food in K-12 Schools: a Cookbook and Professional Development Guide. You don't have to be in California to take advantage of this resource.  It's full of recipes and good ideas, as are other resources from the Center.

From Amy Kalafa: Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children's Health, Tarcher/Penguin 2011. Kalafa is the writer and producer of the film about school food -- Two Angry Moms. This is her how-to guide for getting involved in and doing something useful about your kids' school food programs.

From Sarah A. Robert and Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower: School Food Politics: The Complex Ecology of Hunger and Feeding in Schools Around the World, Peter Lang, 2011. This is a collection of essays (one of them mine) from writers and thinkers about school feeding programs, domestic and international. It ends with a long list of groups working on school food issues.

And on my bookshelf from the last couple of years:

Janet Poppendieck's Free for All: Fixing School Food in America, University of California Press, 2010. My blurb says "Extraordinarily well thought out, beautifully written, sympathetic, and compelling. Anyone who reads this book will find the present school lunch situation beyond unacceptable. Free for All is a call for action on behalf of America's school kids, one that we all need to join." Poppendieck is a strong advocate for universal school meals. Me too.

Institute of Medicine: School Meals: Building Blocks for Health Children, National Academies Press, 2010. This influential committee report says what needs to be done to establish food-based (rather than nutrient-based) standards for school meals.

Kevin Morgan and Roberta Sonnino: The School Food Revolution: Public Food and the Challenge of Sustainable Development, Earthscan (U.K.), 2008. The U.K. has its own problems with school meals and so do other countries. This book presents international case studies focused on sustainability and social justice.

Susan Levine: School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America's Favorite Welfare Program, Princeton, 2008. If you want to understand the history of how school lunches came to be in America, here's the source.

Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children, Collins, 2006. Cooper was one of the first chefs to get into schools and get fixing. This is a how-to from one who did it.

Robert W. Surles: Chef Bobo's Good Food Cookbook, Meridith 2004. I have a soft spot for this one because I've been keeping an eye on Chef Bobo's program at the Calhoun School in Manhattan for years now. He revolutionized school meals at one school and this book explains what he had to do to do that. He's still there and still cooking!

You would like to do something about school meals but don't know how? No excuses!

Image: Creative Commons.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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