Renegade Lunch Lady Ann Cooper

Renegade lunch lady Ann Cooper discusses the food in our schools. This TED talk is a few years old, but it’s still timely. Not much has changed in most schools since she filmed this talk.

An early point she makes is that food should look like food. Kids don’t know what chicken looks like on a plate because chicken nuggets are processed, then formed into stars or dinosaurs. And there’s not much chicken in a chicken nugget. It’s mostly breading and fillers.

I think one of her best ideas is to put recess before lunch instead of after.Β  She thinks the kids throw away food not because they don’t like it, but because they’re in a hurry to get outside and play.Β  I agree with that one.Β  I seem to remember doing something similar myself as a youngster.

She pushes for more local food in the schools instead of shipping food in wrapped in plastic. She feels that school lunches should be prepared from scratch in the school itself. Ann Cooper mentions organics, but admits that few schools could afford to serve organic food in their lunchrooms.

More money is necessary for better food. Eight billion dollars feeds thirty million children each year – $2.49 per lunch. Ann Cooper wants us to double that spending. Where are we going to get more than that? We spend a hundred and ten billion dollars on fast food. We spend one hundred billion dollars on diet aids. We spend two hundred billion dollars a year on diet-related illness.

Health and learning. School lunches should provide nutrition and education at the same time.

Watch the talk. It’s interesting:

Photo by net_efekt, used with a Creative Commons license.

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