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Bettina Elias Siegel
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Bettina Elias Siegel is a nationally recognized writer and commentator on matters relating to children and food policy, with a particular interest in school food reform. She blogs at The Lunch Tray and can be found on Twitter at @thelunchtray.

Entries by Bettina Elias Siegel

New McDonald's School Curriculum Teaches Kids 'Nothing Wrong With Fast Food'

(1) Comments | Posted October 15, 2015 | 3:14 PM

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McDonald's has come under fire in recent years for its incursion into schools through various charitable, educational and anti-bullying programs. While the company says these programs promote "children's well-being," critics see them as stealth marketing tools for a captive, impressionable audience.

But now the company has...

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No, Students Do Not Really "Hate School Lunches"

(14) Comments | Posted September 29, 2015 | 3:50 PM

By now many of you have likely read "Why Students Hate School Lunches," by Kate Murphy in this week's New York Times Sunday Review. Here's my one word reaction to the piece: GAH!!!!

Allow me to elaborate.

The overarching point of Murphy's piece is that the new...

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"Cupcake Amnesty:" Childhood Obesity and the Political Divide

(1) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 11:45 AM

This morning in Austin, our state's newly elected Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is holding a press conference to announce his first official act in office.  But Miller won't use the occasion to address Texas's troubling water shortage, which he had promised to make his "top priority" if elected, nor will he discuss any other...

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Energy Drink Ads Still Reach Young Kids

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2014 | 11:51 AM

Two very different studies crossed my desk this week and, when read together, they point to a disturbing problem.

Earlier in the week, many media outlets reported on a new study in Pediatrics which adds to the growing evidence that energy drinks pose a serious danger to young children.  Looking at data from...

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Chicken Processed in China May Soon Appear on Your Child's Lunch Tray

(4) Comments | Posted November 19, 2014 | 4:04 PM

In August, 2013, the USDA made the controversial announcement that it will allow four Chinese facilities to process poultry raised in the U.S., Canada or Chile and then export that cooked chicken back to the United States.  This development was deeply troubling to many advocates due to China's terrible food safety record and the fact that (by the

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Why I'm So Annoyed by the Recent Debate Over Home Cooking

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 5:51 PM

Last week a debate over family dinner and home cooking erupted in the blogosphere -- and I'm here to tell you that just about everyone involved is ticking me off.

The scuffle began last week when Amanda Marcotte of Slate's XX Factor blog wrote "Let's Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner," a...

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Why the Food Industry Is Running Scared of Internet Activism

(4) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 11:11 AM

A new study by Dr. Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, seeks to determine why people -- mothers in particular -- develop so-called "food fears" about certain ingredients (such as sodium, fat, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, MSG and lean finely textured beef)...

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We Have the 'Cure' for Obesity, But Is the Pill Too Difficult to Swallow?

(2) Comments | Posted June 18, 2014 | 6:30 PM

Many years ago, I mentioned to a doctor friend that a woman I knew -- a Seventh Day Adventist who never drinks alcohol -- had been told she was at risk for cirrhosis of the liver due to her poor diet and excess weight.  My doctor friend looked at me skeptically and said I must...

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Kathleen Parker on School Food: It's All the Feminists' Fault

(0) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 2:52 PM

Last Friday, conservative Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker wrote an editorial praising the School Nutrition Association's (SNA) current attempts to roll back the nutritional improvements of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), derisively referring to the legislation as "the first lady's well-intentioned but disastrous school nutrition program, otherwise known as the...

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Saving School Food: A Letter to My (Imaginary) BFF Michelle Obama

(0) Comments | Posted May 28, 2014 | 11:28 AM

Dear Michelle,

Can I call you "Michelle?"  I know it's a bit presumptuous, what with you being First Lady and all, but for the last six years you and I have shared a beautiful friendship, one that's no less special for being entirely one-sided.

We have so much in...

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Chicken From China? Your Seafood Is Already Being Processed There

(7) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 10:22 AM

Thanks to our petition (307,000 signatures and rising), millions of Americans have learned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is about to allow U.S chickens to be sent to China for processing, then shipped back to the U.S. for human consumption. This arrangement is particularly alarming...

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Chicken From China? Why You Should Be Worried

(3) Comments | Posted January 16, 2014 | 4:57 PM

In March 2012 I launched on The Lunch Tray a petition seeking to remove lean, finely textured beef ("LFTB," more widely known as "pink slime") from the ground beef procured by the USDA for the National School Lunch Program.  The petition garnered over a quarter of a million signatures in just...

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School Food Gets Its Close-Up -- But Is It a Fair One?

(0) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 6:03 PM

A lot of readers have recently asked for my thoughts on the Fed Up campaign, sponsored by Do Something, which asked kids around the country to send in photos of their school meals. (While the project has been going on for a while, it's gotten a lot of press in...

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Schools Meddle in Parents' Home-Packed Lunches: Why I'm Not Offended

(7) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 9:58 AM

A few weeks ago, the Internet was buzzing over news reports that an elementary school in Richmond, VA -- allegedly in accordance with federal law -- is requiring parents to obtain a doctor's note if they want to send a home-packed lunch to school with their child. Then, last week,...

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It's OK: Let Elmo Be a Carrot Pusher

(0) Comments | Posted November 7, 2013 | 9:53 AM

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that the Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) will join the Partnership for a Healthier America to help promote fruits and vegetables to kids.  Specifically, PMA's growers, suppliers and retailers will be allowed for two years to use iconic characters such as...

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Texas Passes Law to Keep Junk Food in Schools (Yeah, You Read That Right)

(37) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 4:12 PM

The USDA earned praise this past June when it released its ground-breaking new rules for "competitive" school food, i.e., the snacks and beverages that compete with the federal school meal and are offered to students through school stores, snack bars, vending machines and other outlets.  These new rules, while not perfect, will go...

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Good News: In New School Snack Rules, USDA Rejects a 'Nutritionism' Approach

(10) Comments | Posted July 8, 2013 | 2:58 PM

As you probably read last week, the USDA has released its interim final rules for "competitive school foods," i.e., the snack items and drinks offered to school kids via vending machines, school stores, fundraisers, snack bars operated by the school cafeteria and other outlets. Currently, these foods are unregulated in many states...

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Is It Wrong to Market Even Healthy Food to Kids?

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 4:35 PM

That's the contention put forth by public health lawyer Michele Simon (Eat Drink Politics) and Susan Linn, Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, in a recent article.

Noting -- as I often have -- that cognitive deficits make children especially vulnerable to the persuasive power of advertising,...

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An Interview with Melanie Warner of Pandora's Lunchbox

(3) Comments | Posted April 15, 2013 | 6:12 PM

As someone who writes regularly about food and who worked as an advertising/regulatory lawyer for one of the world's largest food conglomerates, I didn't think there was a lot that could surprise me about the processed food industry. Then I picked up Melanie Warner's new book, Pandora's Lunchbox,...

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Candy and Junk Food in the Classroom: the Other 'Competitive Food'

(2) Comments | Posted April 12, 2013 | 7:07 PM

With the closing of USDA's period for public comment on the new proposed competitive food rules, there has been a lot of discussion about the food and beverages offered to school kids via vending machines, school stores and cafeteria snack bar or "a la carte" lines.

But what...

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