Tag Archives: midday meal scheme

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?

In (some) stores now!

It’s always an exciting day when the postie brings a package, but receiving this box of the first copies of What’s for Lunch? was especially thrilling. It looks amazing, with Yvonne Duivenvoorden’s photos and Sophie Casson’s illustrations making the pages sing.

I’ll be promoting and launching the book in the fall for back to school but in the meantime, you can find it in certain stores now (also here) or you can preorder online from here or here and have it delivered to your door. (The book will be launched in the U.S. in November.)

Watch here for details about where I’ll be talking about lunch and what kids are saying.

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

School lunch around the world

I’ve been blogging about school lunch for more than two years now, so I figure it’s about time for a look back at the countries and the lunches I’ve explored around the world.

I’ve written a lot about Canada and the U.S. (check out the tag cloud if you’re interested in reading some of it), but I’ve also stopped on almost every other continent. Of course, there’s more—much more—in my book, What’s for Lunch? Watch for news about the upcoming publication date! Here’s a taste of some of the places I’ve visited on the blog:

On getting girls into the classroom with school meals in AFGHANISTAN.

What’s for Lunch in Brazil?

School lunch at the vanguard of ending poverty and hunger in BRAZIL (plus more here).

Lunch at a unique green school in BALI, INDONESIA.

Taste education and school meals in FRANCE.

From FINLAND with love: how school lunch contributes to producing some of the smartest kids in the world.

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

Stanley’s Tiffin Box

I had a great afternoon yesterday talking to a group of school kids about the power of food at the TIFF Kids International Film Festival. I was delighted to be a followup speaker after the wonderful new Indian film called Stanley’s Tiffin Box, written and directed by Amole Gupte.

The film is the story of a remarkable little boy who goes to a Catholic school in Mumbai where the children bring elaborate and delicious lunches to school (in tall stacked tiffin boxes). Nobody seems to know it—or do anything about it—but Stanley doesn’t have any lunch. The other children are glad to share with Stanley, who is a marvellous storyteller and friend, but a mean teacher (who wants the  food they bring himself!) puts a halt to their joyful buffets. He tells Stanley that he can’t come to school if he doesn’t bring his own lunch.

The result is a film that is beautiful, funny and sad in equal measure. Stanley’s tiredness and irritability as a result of his hunger, his shame about not having food when everyone else does and the pleasure the boys take in sharing their meal make it especially poignant. The film plays again at TIFF (check the schedule for showtimes) but I hope it gets a North American distributor  because it’s a film kids everywhere should see.

As the children were being let out of the theatre, one boy stopped and talked to me. He was shaking his head. It’s just not right, he said, that we have so much—too much food even!—when other people have nothing.

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

Calling in for lunch

India boasts the largest school meal program in the world—with nearly 120 million kids receiving food through what is known as the “mid-day meal scheme.” The government-funded meal is generally quite simple—often just rice and lentils. But in a country as under-resourced and heavily populated as India, ensuring this basic food gets to the kids who need it is complicated—to say the least.

Nearly every month there are reports in the media of children getting sick and even dead creatures—lizards, frogs, rats and snakes—turning up in the food (particularly at rural schools). Officials blame the poorly maintained and unsanitary sheds often used as kitchens.

But food safety aside, simply monitoring the delivery of the meal program—in order to evaluate its success and make improvements—is an enormous challenge. Enter the techies at an Indian firm called Knowlarity who realized that while most schools don’t have internet connections, many people have cell phones.

“We call 150,000 schools every day using automated telephony to find out if the meal was distributed and generate reports in real time,” they explain on their website.

Schools in the state of Uttar Pradesh SMS back the details of their daily distribution and the government has the info right away rather than years later. Here’s hoping such monitoring—and the improvements that should follow—will eliminate the spectre of dead serpent surprise in the daily meal and ensure more kids have a chance at good health and an education.

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Tuna from heaven

Day 4: Do the Math

We ran out of milk this morning. We’re both regretting that glass of it we enjoyed on the first day. I guess it’s water from here on in. Instead of our usual cereal, my husband is thinking of making peanut butter balls and rolling them in Corn Flakes for breakfast tomorrow. We’ll call it brunch.

I did think enough to save my can of tuna. I had it for lunch today on unleavened bread with the last of the vegetables, which I roasted in the oven last night. It was quite tasty:

Lunch: day 4

In fact, I’ve been so desperate for protein (something I usually get from beans and other non-meat sources), I savoured the canned tuna like some rare delicacy. I felt as if I could feel my muscles building and repairing themselves as I swallowed.

We hear all the time about how eating well is about so much more than consuming the right number of calories and how we also need the correct variety of nutrients and vitamins. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with all the research and rumour about what is necessary (vitamin A,B, C, D, omega 3, antioxidants, etc. etc.).

The big Stop garden at Earlscourt Park and the new greenhouse and sheltered garden at The Green Barn (producing about 5,000 lbs of fresh produce every year), plus purchases from local farmers, means that during the growing season Stop participants have access to lots of produce packed with the good stuff . But if you have to rely on chicken weiners and canned pasta the rest of the time, well, being undernourished is a distinct possibility.

Researching What’s for Lunch?, I found that the kinds of vitamin/mineral/nutrient deficiencies that improverished children around the world face boggles the mind. In India, there is something called the “midday meal scheme” at public schools, and kids up to age 14 get a free meal. And yet 70% of young Indian children still have iron deficiency, making it hard to concentrate or do much of anything because they’re so tired and weak.

As for us, the tuna/protein made such a difference to my mood and general well-being, we used the last of our eggs at dinner tonight:

Potato/tomato frittata

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