The school-food movie “Two Angry Moms” was released in 2007, and I saw it probably two years ago, but its message still resonates. That’s both good and bad.
Sadly, school food in the United States remains a mess (no surprise to anyone who watched “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” or, frankly, to anyone who’s walked into almost any school cafeteria in this country). But there also is momentum on the issue like never before. And for the first time it feels like we might really be getting somewhere. I’m choosing optimism and advising you to check it out. It’s an important film.
For local readers, a group of Pittsford parents will be hosting a screening this Thursday, May 6, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Pittsford library. The event is free, no registration required. For others, check out the website for details on hosting your own screening. And for all, here’s a 10-minute preview:
Did that get you all riled up? Here’s some more fuel for the fire:
- Kate Adamick, a school-food consultant featured in the movie, has been blogging about Jamie Oliver’s show for The Atlantic. This post is an eye-opening look at why it’s so hard to get processed food out of our schools. A hint: “The USDA is not just the overseer of the National School Lunch Program. It also acts as the federal government’s marketing arm for industrial agriculture and its progeny, the processed food and beverage industry.” (But you already knew that, right? Still, check out the post. It’s actually shocking.)
- Mrs. Q, an anonymous teacher in Illinois, is blogging about her pledge to eat school lunch every day in 2010. Not long ago she had a Q&A with a lunch lady (no, Alice Gue, she doesn’t mind being called “lunch lady”). It was both fascinating and heartbreaking. It’s long and some of the questions are repetitive, but you’ll be so glad you read it. (And a little sad.)
- Susan Rubin, the dentist and nutritionist who’s also one of the moms in “Two Angry Moms,” guest posted today on Ed Bruske’s The Slow Cook blog. She tackles the serious (and seriously maddening) problem of sugar in school food.
Have you seen “Two Angry Moms”? What did you think? Any thoughts on school food in general? I’ll be watching the movie again Thursday, then posting a follow-up.
Update on May 7: Saw “Two Angry Moms” last night, and I was struck again by the similarities between these moms’ battle and the drama that played out on Jamie Oliver’s show in Huntington, W.Va. It was disheartening, honestly, given that the stories were filmed probably four years apart. (And especially given Susan Rubin’s update about what has happened with the “Two Angry Moms” school in the interim. See her comment below.) But I do feel as though the tide is shifting. And no one ever said that change (or reform or revolution) is easy. More on that later.
Copyright protected by Digiprove © 2010 Christina Le Beau
I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll be there on Thursday. Thanks for posting these links. I’ll check them out!
After watching the movie, check out the Better School Food website for support and additional strategies for advocating for a better food environment.
Sadly, the school featured in the Two Angry Moms movie is no longer serving real food. Aramark (the food service company serving that school) won that battle but it won’t win the war!
I’m no longer “angry”, just persistently determined to support groups of moms in forming Better School Food groups throughout the country.
Susan, great to see you here, and thanks for all your work (then and now). Wow, though, what a bummer about the school in the movie. It’ll be interesting to watch the second time, knowing that.
FYI, everyone else: Here’s the Better School Food website. You also can find the organization on Facebook.
We’re covering many of the same subjects it seems!
I’m in the process of doing a follow up to my post on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (been derailed a bit by travel) but it generated a lot of interesting comments: http://lettuceeatkale.com/2010/jamie-oliver-school-food-revolution-or-reality-tv-rubbish/
Likewise a recent post on Janet Poppenieck’s new school food book, Free for All, may be of interest to both you and your readers:
She and others leave me hopeful that real school food reform may be possible.
Great minds… LOL.
I saw those posts when they came out (right about the time I started following your blog, I think), and they’re great reads. Thanks for posting. I, too, am feeling optimistic these days.
Did two JO posts myself, and am planning a follow-up, as well.
I love seeing how jazzed everyone gets about this.
This was so great to watch. WIll be sharing far and wide. I think they have done an even better job of this than Jamie Oliver because they don’t emphasize obesity and this is what Jamie is getting raked over the coals for fat bashing. Would you like to link this up at my Vegetarian Foodie Fridays meme today? I know it’s not vegetarian per se but it would be acceptable to me because they don’t emphasize meat and it’s all about nutrition. Hope to see you there.
Melodie, thanks for noticing that this is not just about obesity. Obesity is very visible but only the tip of the iceberg. I go nuts about that fact! Even told the Oprah producers “no thank you” last year because I didn’t want to be part of a show that emphasized fat. If you only look thru that lens, you create a solution that is ineffective.
Please spread news of the film far and wide. Amy Kalafa, the filmmaker put up all of her own money to make the film. I have no financial tie to the film, I’m all about the message. Its important that the message gets out there.
PS, all the great changes that you saw in the movie in the Katonah Lewisboro district are no longer. Aramark won, parents and kids lost.
Yes! Love how the movie emphasized that this isn’t about kids getting fat. It’s about kids eating nutrient-stripped food, ingesting chemicals, and being unable to focus or learn because they’re getting pumped full of sugar and food dyes. Obesity is a serious problem — we can’t deny that — but the fight should be about the quality of the food, not just the quantity of the calories.
Susan, how long did the new food last before Aramark prevailed?
Melodie, have you watched the whole movie? Or just the clip? The film makes a strong case for breastfeeding as the foundation for good childhood nutrition, so, given your blog’s focus, that might interest you.
I’m happy to link this up wih Vegetarian Foodie Fridays. I’m a longtime vegetarian and we’re raising our daughter vegetarian (my husband eats fish), so it’s a good fit. You will find me writing about meat, however, because while we don’t eat it, I feel strongly that those who do should be eating pastured, sustainably raised meat. So the topic has to be part of my blog’s emphasis on raising food-literate kids.
Within a year of the filming, the nuggets returned. Aramark claimed they could not make a profit with healthy food.
When it comes to school food, there are two types of cafeterias: self operated and ones run by outside companies like Aramark, Sodhexo and Chartwells. Please note that the schools who have made meaningful changes to their school lunch programs have ALL been ones that are self-operated. The ones with privatized lunch resist and insist on processed foods that allow them to receive national volume discounts ( aka kickbacks).
It remains quite a problem.
Interesting. At the movie screening last night, the host parents said their school district has an employee-run lunch program. Sounds like that should give them some hope.
Hi Christina! Found you via Fed Up with School Lunch and enjoying the read so far. You’ve hit on my big worry about next year. It will be the first year my kids will be in a public school with a cafeteria. They both went to preschools where the parents supplied snack, my daughter went to a private school with no cafeteria for K and 1st, we opted to homeschool for 2nd for her while we figured out where we’d end up staying.
Thankfully, my nearly 8 year old is so disgusted by both the Jamie Oliver show and a piece on the Dallas news about what kids bring from home that she was making me promise that I’d still make her lunch bentos and not “make her eat that kind of stuff!” Hopefully the little one (he’s almost 5) will feel the same way. We’re not even food purists in the grand scheme of things–the kids enjoy treats and meals out, we have no dye or gluten allergies, and I do reap the benefits of the take-&-go pizza on busy nights. But I just cannot get behind feeding them that kind of junk for 5 meals out of 21 per week.
Welcome, Shannon. As you may have seen, we, too, packed our daughter’s preschool snacks, and now she also goes to a small private school without a cafeteria, so all the kids bring their own snacks/lunches. Food, actually, is one of the reasons we chose the school we did. I’ve always said, however, that even if she went to a school with a cafeteria, we’d pack her lunch anyway.
But after I watched “Two Angry Moms” the other night, I came home and told my husband how glad I was that her school does not have a cafeteria. Because even though we’d pack her lunch, and even though we’ve tried to raise a thoughtful eater, there would be no guarantees that she wouldn’t somehow get sucked in. And, frankly, I was glad, too, because it would depress me beyond words to have to see that kind of food served to kids every day. As the film made clear, just because we do the right thing at home doesn’t mean we can ignore what’s happening in schools.
Now, that said, I do think laying a good foundation counts for something. A lot, actually. I repeat this over and over, but kids are smart, and if we give them credit and engage them in conversations and decisions about food, they will embrace that. Plus they’ll realize that real food just tastes better. So even if they get sucked into eating crapola (because their friends are or because the packaging is pretty or just because they feel like it), they might not finish it or choose it again. Sounds to me like your daughter is in this camp, so I’m guessing she’ll do just fine.
Of course, now we just have to do something about the system that even allows this to happen.
Wow. Just….wow. I have seen the Angry Moms video, and I read the article that you linked to.
Here’s one thing that we need to focus on-the parents. Parents have more power than they think. If they protest, and pull their kids from those lunch programs, the companies won’t make any money. Where I am the hot lunch programs are parent run, although they must fall within the BC Healthy Living Guidelines that were mandated by the government.
If parents mobilized against these huge companies who care more about profit then the health of our kids, there would be change.
Thanks for linking up to Food Revolution Fridays! I love your posts-so much information!
I find it interesting that Aramark has taken over this school, mainly because they have taken over the district that I work for. My district has been trying to save money and they have been making a lot of cuts in a lot of places. School breakfasts and lunches were no exceptions.
Last year (and in previous years) kids had milk, a piece of fruit, a protien (such as eggs or ham) a grain (french toast, english muffin) and a choice of cereal for breakfast. Obviously the food was processed and void of any nutrients but there was a good portion of it. Lunch wasn’t much better. There were veggies daily but they were cooked beyond recognition. There was also mac & cheese, pizza, burgers, hots, soggy fries (which are a veggie) and sometimes the cold sandwich choice. The kids also got milk and juice daily.
This year marks the first year of Aramark’s reign over our children’s food. One of the most popular breakfasts is (hold on to your hats!) a cheese stick, 2 graham cracker squares, and a milk. That shows up 2-3 times a week. Occasionally they will get stale bagels (sometimes donning lovely green fur) as their main food. Once in a while they are lucky enough to get a couple of soggy french toast strips and “syrup” or a cold egg and sausage sandwich. The milk is sour quite often. The juice is frozen solid.
Yay. The District has saved a ton of money on this food service provider change. But at what cost? They have made the horrible food the kids previously ate even worse. It’s disgusting. It smells horrid. The kids even hate the food. It’s unbelievable the comments my students make.
And Aramark? They should be ashamed of themselves for feeding that shit to kids. It’s disgusting. And the cooking process? Ridiculous! The food os cooked once at “Central Kitchen” then shipped out the the elementary schools and cooked again………all in oven-proof plastic. I’d wager my house, life-savings, hell I’d waiver my life on the bet that these kids are getting more chemicals in their breakfasts & lunches than nutrients. And guess what folks…..I’d win.
speaking of ingredients, you might want to check out Healthy Tara
Tara is a high school senior who has been on a quest to get Aramark to disclose their ingredients. She started an online petition and a blog. The good news is that Tara is learning skills that will serve her well in college. I hope someone at her school takes up her campaign after she graduates.
Tell her I sent you!
Gotta love the magic of the Internet!
Tara rocks. Definitely check out her blog.
A big thank you to you for all that you have done as well.
I am curious, when I pulled up the May menu for Ketonah-Lewisboro Elementary Schools it looks on paper at least way better than ours. Also the other information on the web seems encouraging. The latest thing I found in the minutes from the board meetings was approval of funds for ‘H.M.B. Consultants for the Wellness Policy Compliance and Meal Compliance Audits in an amount not to exceed $8,500.’ in March 2010. So I guess there is work continuing to be done but is it really fair to say that they have returned to chicken nuggets? It was awefully discouraging to us who are just starting up here in Rochester, NY???