Tag Archives: Afghanistan

School lunch matters

With the recent publication of What’s for Lunch? I’ve been talking a lot about the potential for school lunch to transform schools and communities. I thought I’d try to express some of those possibilities in an easy-to-digest infographic ready for sharing. Please feel free to share, and let others know about the power of food.

Many thanks to Oliver Sutherns who designed and stick-handled the infographic from idea to reality!

Embed this image on your site:

<a href="http://unpackingschoollunch.wordpress.com/the-blog/school-lunch-matters/"><img src="http://unpackingschoollunch.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/school-lunch-infographic1.jpg" alt="School Lunch Matters Infographic" border="0" /></a><br />Brought to you by <a href="http://unpackingschoollunch.wordpress.com">Andrea Curtis</a>

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Filed under City gardens, Kids and food, School feeding, School gardens, School kitchens, School lunch, What's for Lunch?

2011: the year in preview

There’s something about all the “Best Of…” lists that come out this time of year that I find a bit depressing. In the dead of Canadian winter, with so little sun to warm my bones, I guess I’d just rather look ahead. So here’s that fool’s errand—a  round-up of predictions for 2011 in the world of food and kids—from my home to the wider world.

My 11-year-old son’s New Year’s Resolution is to make his lunch “more”—which, considering he never makes his lunch, probably means once a week. The mornings are a frantic time in our house and we haven’t made the space for him in our routine but all that changes now that he’s taken the initiative. I hope he’ll allow me to chronicle some of his efforts here on What’s for Lunch?

The Food Channel predicts that one of the big food trends of 2011 is thousands of chefs will be joining school cafeteria crews. “This will be the year we finally get really serious about feeding our children healthier, better quality foods. We’re no longer just talking about childhood obesity, we’re doing something about it.”

According to agriculturalist/horticulturalist George Ball writing in The Wall Street Journal, 2011 will be the year of the vegetable.  Ball says kids will eat them if their parents tell them they must. (I ought to try that one….)

Epicurious suggests that Meatless Mondays will go mainstream, with numerous American school districts already embracing vegetarian offerings.

Marion Nestle writes that school food will continue to make front page news in the US as the new Child Nutrition Act is implemented—and negotiated on the ground.

This is the year Ontario schools will ban junk food from their premises. I predict lots of hand-wringing from good-food backlash types about children’s god-given right to soda, etc.

Funding for school dinners in England has been on shaky ground since the change of government last year. There are signs that this will continue despite all the excellent work the School Food Trust and others have done showing the enormous benefits of healthy food in school canteens.

In Afghanistan, where thousands of children rely on school meals (often emergency biscuits or corn-soy porridge) supplied by the World Food Program, the organization says the outlook on food security is increasingly bleak. A funding shortfall may mean the WFP has to cut its assistance down to only emergency projects. With wheat prices continuing to rise and the humanitarian situation deteriorating, need is only going to increase.

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Filed under Kids and food, School gardens, School kitchens, School lunch

School lunch in Afghanistan

I was going to continue blogging about school lunch in Canada this week but I saw this disturbing  story about extremist attacks on schoolgirls in Afghanistan and wanted to write about how school meal programs are making a difference for girls in that country.

As most people know, during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, girls were banned from attending school. Even today, nine years after the regime’s  ousting, only one third of Afghan students are female.

And many of the girls who do go to school risk their lives to attend. Girls have had acid thrown at them, there have been bombings and female teachers and students are regularly threatened.

Yesterday, as the article reports, government officials allege extremists launched the second poison attack on schoolgirls in northeastern Afghanistan in two days, causing dozens to collapse with nausea and headaches while waiting for a Qur’an reading at their school.

Advocates for girls’ education fear that this is the extremists’ newest weapon to scare girls and their families into staying home instead of going to school.

Unfortunately, it’s a very effective weapon. Imagine the impossible choice for parents, knowing on one hand that educating your daughter is the single most effective way to improve her life and life in Afghanistan in general, and on the other that her life might very well be in danger simply walking to school.

The World Food Program and others have been trying to make the decision easier by providing nutritious meals in schools and other take-home food incentives for girls and their families.

High-energy fortified biscuits are provided to Afghan students as incentive to attend school

In 2009,  WFP provided 1.4 million Afghan children with high energy biscuits (see photo) or a hot meal. More than half a million girls were also given vegetable oil  to take home. In a country where 39% of kids under 5 years old are underweight (one of the international measures of malnutrition), these food incentives can be very compelling. For many children, it is the most nutritious meal they have all day.

The WFP reports that girls’ enrollment and attendance have increased as a result of the school feeding program, though it’s hard to imagine there won’t be a setback if these kinds of poison gas attacks continue.

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