Are School Lunches Safe?: 26,500 Schools Lack Proper Inspections

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photo:J Novak

Over the past few years, a commonly muddled bureaucracy and the resulting lack of trust in government has further tainted our nation's food supply system. Now that mistrust is spilling over into school cafeterias. According to an article on Mother Nature Network, many school lunches are not being properly inspected.

Our nation's food supply is once again under fire. This time the failure is happening in our children's school cafeterias. The findings, originally published by USA Today, found that 26,500 school cafeterias lack required inspections. The National School Lunch Program requires schools to have their cafeteria kitchens inspected at least twice a year by a state or local health agency. But these inspections cost money, nearly $138 per inspection per school. As a result nearly 30 percent of schools reporting on their inspections in 2006-07 and 2007-08 had not complied with inspection protocols.

School Nutrition Sub Par
Cost is not the only issue affecting the food that our children eat. For example, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 expired on September 30, 2009, according to School Nutrition Association. The issue, however, has been pushed to the back burner as a result of other legislative priorities, including healthcare reform and the war in Afganistan. But what's more important than the health of the next generation?

Adding more fresh fruits and vegetables, reducing meat consumption, and connecting school with local producers should become a priority for our schools. Programs like Edible Schoolyard are a step in the right direction. The program brings edible gardens to school grounds where students can cultivate their food with their own hands, which can connect them with nature before they bring the finished produce inside to learn how to cook it in a healthy manner while still at school.

As Matthew recently wrote, the Baltimore Public School District is taking an innovative step in the right direction. The school district announced in October that it would adopt a Meatless Monday menu for all of the 80,000 students that it serves. Steps like these make a big difference. According to Matthew, in a year of Meatless Mondays you would save about 1 ton of water, enough to fill up the bathtub 22 times per week.

These programs are a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

More on School Lunches:
Waste Free School Lunch: Yet Another Kit to Help us Reuse
School Lunch: What Do The Kids Eat?
Two Angry Moms Taking on School Lunch