As our national discussion on the subject of school lunches swings into high gear, it’s worth asking ourselves what it’s really possible to do in school lunch programs. A recent New York Times editorial co-authored by Alice Waters and Katrina Heron on the subject outlines one possibility, a wholesale scrapping of the existing school lunch system in favor of one that gives the nation’s schools the ability to prepare and serve unprocessed foods that have been grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides, where possible from local sources. Unfortunately, the price tag—$27bn, up from the current $9bn, not counting the one-time conversion costs—will probably raise taxpayers’ eyebrows, especially in the present small-government recessionary environment.
Casting the debate in these terms may be unfortunate, and unwise. There could be much to be lost, in this case, by letting the best (and, exponentially, most expensive) be the enemy of the good, especially given that the status quo is very bad indeed. A compelling entry on a blog called interestingemailforwards (via slashfood) demonstrates, through photographs of school lunches from countries around the world, that even those that are far poorer than we often manage to put relatively healthy, balanced meals in front of their children.
A few samples: