Lunch Lessons: Back to School 2011

08/23/2011 10:16 am ET | Updated Oct 24, 2011

by guest blogger Anne Cooper

Not a day goes by without the media addressing America's growing obesity crisis, and lately the discussion has settled on our children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that if American children don't get their weight in check, their anticipated health problems will significantly shorten their lives, and make them the first generation in our nation's history to die at younger ages than their parents.  In fact, the CDC has said that of the children born in the year 2000, one out of every three Caucasians and one out of every two African Americans and Hispanics will contract diabetes in their lifetimes, many before they graduate high school.

We are still in the peak of summer, but kids and teachers across the United States are already gearing up for school to start. With students back at their desks, lunchrooms are also about to be bustling once again with the rekindling of friendships, brown paper sacks, and lunch trays full of school lunch. But what of the state of school food, is it getting better?  Are we feeding kids more healthfully?  Why should healthy school food matter to every one of us?

A typical school lunch (photo credit:

A typical school lunch often consists of any combination of pizza, hamburgers, nachos, french fries, tater tots, all slathered in ketchup and ranch dressing, all served with a side of sugary flavored milk. There is no doubt in my mind that these mediocre school lunches are contributing to the obesity crisis--and that if we do not take action NOW to make school lunches healthy, we will all pay the price in healthcare costs, and more importantly, the lives of those who are important to us.

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Related Links:
Rodale's Nontoxic Back-to-School Shopping Guide -
A National Look at School Lunches Pt. 1 - Maria's Farm Country Kitchen