School Food Initiative
The School Food Initiative envisions the children of Santa Barbara County making healthy food choices throughout their lives
What did you eat for lunch today?
If you are a student in the United States, your answer is likely "Chicken nuggets, french fries, and chocolate milk." Even though many school districts make an effort to serve healthier school meals, the average student's lunch tray is filled with pre-packaged, highly processed foods that were prepared thousands of miles away, frozen, and then reheated on-site. If the school has a salad bar, it is likely filled with iceberg lettuce, packaged salad dressings, and canned vegetables. Unfortunately, all of the foods mentioned in this paragraph are acceptable components of a reimbursable school meal, according to current USDA standards.
Why do school meals matter?
Our children have not been eating well. One third of all children born after 2000 can expect to live a shorter life than their parents due to preventable, diet-related illness. Over-consumption of foods laden with sugar and fat diminishes their ability to focus during class time. Approximately one third of public school students in Santa Barbara County are overweight or obese. Excessive consumption of unhealthy food leads to both immediate and long term health complications and, ultimately, premature death.
What can we do to change the way that children eat?
School is a place of learning, not only from books, but also from experience and exposure. In this sense, we teach children how to eat for the rest of their lives through the meals we serve them during the school day. The School Food Initiative leads by example, empowering school districts in Santa Barbara County to implement and sustain nourishing cook-from-scratch food programs so that our children have access to the healthy food that they deserve.