What’s for Lunch? was created for kids, their parents and teachers to initiate discussions about food and the way it connects to so many issues that we all care about. Things like the environment, poverty, hunger, our health and the health of our communities.
But reading the book is just the beginning. I hope families and educators will use it as a bouncing-off point for more in-depth discussions. That’s why, with the help of my publisher, Red Deer Press, I’ve created a FREE Teaching Guide for use in classrooms everywhere. The guide has questions aimed at initiating talk about what kids eat around the world, teaching ideas inspired by the book’s content, blacklines for easy printout—all downloadable here. (It’s about 5 MB.)
There are curriculum connections to health and nutrition, environmental sustainability, diversity, urban/rural connections, media education and much more. From the Pizza Pie game to Untangling the Food System to a more in-depth session we call The Lottery of Life, I hope these resources will inspire teachers to bring the ideas in What’s for Lunch? into their classroom. I’d love to hear how it goes. Email me (andrea at andreacurtis dot ca) and let me know!
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>
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.
[Over the next couple of months before What’s for Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World is published, I’ll be highlighting some of the countries that are featured in the book. This is the first in the series.]
In the last few years, Brazil has emerged as the darling of the world economy. The GDP is growing while income inequality is decreasing.
Of course, it had no where to go but up on the equality issue. It wasn’t so long ago that Brazil was the most unequal country in the world, with the wealthiest 10 percent earning half of all income. But a vast suite of government programs aimed at poverty reduction has meant poverty has actually been cut in half. Countries around the world are now looking to Brazil for advice on how to do the same. (In fact, political economist Doug Henwood wrote recently that New York City could use a few tips—it’s now more unequal than Brazil.)
Food access is a huge part of the Brazilian strategy and free school lunch programs in public schools have long been part of the landscape.
Photo from What's for Lunch? Copyright Yvonne Duivenvoorden
But it’s not just about free food for kids. School lunch is integrated into other aspects of the food system. Seasonal produce, for instance, is prioritized and schools must buy a portion of ingredients from local farmers (like the banana in the image above). Everyone benefits: kids get great fresh food; farmers have a ready outlet for their produce; and these new relationships grease the economy.
This kind of connecting the dots between schools and farms, education and the economy is exactly the way forward. No wonder Brazil is becoming a model for the rest of us.
World Cup fever has gripped most of the planet (and all of my family) so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and take the opportunity to look at school feeding in some of the contending countries. I’ll visit a couple of countries between now and mid-July. After all, even soccer stars like Portugal’s Ronaldo and Brazil’s Kaká used to be schoolchildren—and there are lots of stars in the making relying on school lunch to make them healthy and strong.
Kaká in a (low tech) WFP TV ad talking about hunger with young soccer hopefuls
Kaká, in fact, knows a bit about school feeding as a World Food Program Hunger Ambassador. He even helped launch their Fill the Cup campaign a few years back, encouraging people to contribute to emergency food assistance for countries in crisis.
It makes sense since Kaká hails from a country known as a leader in the worldwide food security movement. Brazil’s president, Lula was first elected in 2003 on a Zero Hunger platform. As part of a national anti-hunger program, all public school children get a free hot lunch every day at school. For many kids in Brazil, it is their main meal of the day.
School lunch providers are also required to source the food locally and to plan menus to accommodate seasonal production schedules, so there are always fresh fruit and vegetables on the plate in the school canteen.
A typical meal might include rice and beans, meat, egg or fish and veggies like kale or potato, plus fruit or a fresh fruit juice like passionfruit or pineapple.
Image from Professor Cecilia Rocha's talk "Healthy Food for All: The Alternative Food System in Belo Horizonte, Brazil"
It’s not cheap to feed millions of kids school a free and nutritious meal every day, but in Brazil access to healthy food is considered a human right. A school feeding official in Brazil explained it best in this WFP document: “School lunch is not an expense, it’s an investment.”