THE POLITICS OF SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAMS 2004 1941 Sally Fallon Morell, President The Weston A. Price Foundation
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD France France spends 3 times more per lunch than the U.S. No vending machines allowed in schools.
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Began as a program to use up surplus wheat and milk from the U.S. Japan
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Sweden
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Slovakia
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Cambodia
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Brazil
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Finland
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD India
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Russia
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Kenya
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Haiti
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD Tanzania
Sweden SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD United Kingdom
SCHOOL LUNCHES FROM AROUND THE WORLD U.S.A.
THE BEGINNINGS 1900 - 1930 • From the turn of the century, increasing attention paid to nutrition and nutritional standards among children. • Schools would help track children's weight and growth rate to ensure they were not suffering from malnutrition or other diseases. • Early 1920s studies indicated students were more successful during school if they ate "a hot lunch" rather than the usual cold sandwich and fruit. • Many advocacy groups, local charities began to sponsor lunches and food programs for poor school children. • However with the Great Depression, this funding proved inadequate and malnutrition among school children reemerged as a serious issue. • In the early 1930s, because of the marked improvement shown in poorer students fed school lunches, the federal government began directing money toward such programs.
INSPIRING WORDS OF DR. MARY SWARTZ ROSE “The expensive machinery of education is wasted when it operates on a mind listless from hunger or befogged by indigestible food. Whether the cause be poverty, ignorance or carelessness, the child is the sufferer, and the painstaking work of the school lunch supervisors to secure wholesome and adequate noon meals for the school children at a minimum cost not only brings immediate benefit to the children, but exerts a widespread influence upon homes and parents. . .” Feeding the Family, Mary Swartz Rose, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Nutrition, Columbia University, 1917.
UNINSPRING SCHOOL LUNCH SUGGESTIONS OF DR. MARY SWARTZ ROSE Menu served by the School Lunch Committee of the Home and School League, Philadelphia MONDAY: Baked beans, roll, cocoa or milk, crackers or ice cream TUESDAY: Vegetable soup, roll, cocoa or milk, crackers or ice cream WEDNESDAY: Creamed beef on toast, roll, cocoa or milk, crackers or ice cream THURSDAY: Macaroni with tomato sauce, roll, jam sandwich, cocoa or milk, crackers or ice cream FRIDAY: Creamed salmon, roll, cocoa or milk, crackers or ice cream. Feeding the Family, Mary Swartz Rose, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Nutrition, Columbia University, 1917.
ORIGINAL PROTOTYPE SCHOOL LUNCH MENU to provide 1/3 to 1/2 of daily nutritional requirements Type A: Schools with preparation facilities Type B: Schools with less extensive preparation facilities Type C: Provided milk only www.fns.usda.gov/CND/Lunch/AboutLunch/ProgramHistory_5.htm
CONFLICTING DEMANDS: NOURISH CHILDREN VS. SUPPORT COMMODITY AGRICULTURE As more money came to these programs from donations and private funding, they became a viable way to offer employment to many who had lost their jobs. In 1932, as a part of the New Deal, the federal government began lending money to local governments to launch school lunch programs. At the same time, the agricultural industry had hit a slump, as poverty was widespread and people were buying less food. These two demands led to a system by which surplus commodities were purchased from farmers and provided to school lunch programs. This moderated agricultural prices while at the same time feeding hungry children. Schools throughout the country began to sign up for the program and by 1942 the program was feeding more than 5 million students.
Children receiving lunch in a Southern schools From USDA Archive, 1936. Child Praying Before School Lunch
TOWARD A NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM • Since the system was based on which commodities were available, students often got meals that did not provide the complete range of nutrients, or that they would not eat because they were unfamiliar. • The unpredictability created difficulties in planning the budget and the meals. • Nevertheless, the school lunch program had become a fixture in schools all across the nation because of jobs created and support of farmers. • In 1940, the USDA convened the Coordinating Committee on School Lunches with representatives from child nutrition advocates to the different agricultural lobbies, in order to create a system that served the needs of the children as much as it served those of farmers. • In 1943, when the New Deal central relief effort ceased, federal funding for school lunch programs dried up. • A campaign on the part of the Coordinating Committee on School Lunches drew widespread support, lobbying Congress for permanent funding for a national school lunch program.
USDA OVERSIGHT OF THE SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM • In 1946 Senator Richard Russell of Georgia drafted the National School Lunch Act and it passed. • The bill was a compromise between the "New Deal" democrats who supported the program because of the social welfare aspect, and the more conservative southern democrats who wanted less federal control over public schools but wanted more subsidies for their poor, white farmers. • In the bill, Sen. Russell put the program under the USDA, with no money provided for nutritional education. • Supporters of the bill claimed it would be what made future generations healthy and prosperous, while its opponents thought it was a blow against democratic individualism and a step toward socialism.
GOAL OF THE NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM As stated by Congress, the goal of the program was “to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation's children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities and other food, by assisting the States, through grants-in-aid and other means, in providing an adequate supply of food and other facilities for the establishment, maintenance, operation and expansion of nonprofit school lunch programs.” www.fns.usda.gov/CND/Lunch/AboutLunch/ProgramHistory_5.htm
HOW IT WORKED The act specified how much would be allotted to each state for food preparation, equipment, staff, etc. The Secretary of Agriculture was responsible for paying each state at least 75 percent of the money they spent on food. States received funding according to “the number of school children between the ages of 5 and 17, inclusive, in the State, and the need for assistance in the State as indicated by the relation of the per capita income in the United States to the per capita income of the State." In this way, states that had a lower per capita income would receive more money. By 1947 the program served 7.1 million children. http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/AboutLunch/ProgramHistory_5.htm
NSLP as CULTURAL HOMOGENIZER • Before the 1940s, the US had a large number of immigrants who had brought their varying cuisines with them. • Nutritional scientists at the time were trying help the poor eat in a more healthy way for less money, and the federal government at the same time was trying Americanize all the immigrants. • With the NSLP, the US government saw an opportunity to do both. • As the children were open and impressionable, the NSLP gave children a sense of American identity through food, as well as well as “creating a healthy generation, educated in good nutrition.” Levine, Susan. School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America's Favorite Welfare Program (Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America) . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. p. 24.
NSLP as NATIONAL DEFENSE • During the draft for WWII, a large number of eligible men were found unfit for duty due to poor nutrition. • The Coordinating Committee on School Lunches used the this issue to as a primary motivator in their push for the National School Lunch Program • According to the head of the New City school board, George Chatfield, those children who did not have proper nutrition would become "the absentee from school, and later the absentee from essential war production, the drifter, the early incapacitated worker."
NSLP and CHANGING GENDER ROLES • With the majority of men off fighting, women took jobs in order to support their families and keep the economy functioning. • Additionally, food shortages left prices higher than normal and less food available. • Thus the school lunch took 1/3 of the burden of feeding children off of mothers, and was marketed as such by politicians pushing for the school lunch bill.
NSLP and SOCIAL INEQUALITIES • The way Southern policy-makers crafted the bill made the program easier to implement for schools in predominantly white, rural southern communities, compared to schools in more urban areas around the country. • In these communities, the ratio between those who could pay and those who could not was more even; those with fewer students who could pay were less likely to raise the money required to offset what the federal government did not provide. • Civil Rights activists countered this by pushing for an amendment barring funding for school lunch programs in segregated schools; however the amendment came to be worded as anti-discrimination rather than anti-segregation so as to not be discriminating itself, and was in essence ineffectual.
NSLP and the WAR ON POVERTY • In the early 1960s, there was an increasing awareness on the part of politicians about the level of poverty in the US. • This helped bring to light how ineffective the NSLP was at feeding the broad majority of poor school children. • In 1962, Congress amended the National School Lunch Act requiring free lunches for all poor children, no matter what school they were in. . . but they failed to add any additional funding to the program. • In 1966, the Child Nutrition Act stipulated federal money in addition to commodities for school lunch programs. • However, none of this new money could be used to purchase equipment, build larger preparation facilities or pay salaries in order to feed all of the extra children these schools would have to feed.
THE 1966 CHILD NUTRITION ACT • While this new act theoretically solved the problem—namely, the lack of standard for defining poverty--states had freedom on how to appropriate the money. This led to extremely inconsistent policies varying from region to region. • To add to this inconsistency, states received money based on how many children had previously been enrolled in the program, causing the previous inequalities to show up in the new system. • The confluence of all of these factors sparked a search for an objective definition of poverty in order to determine which students should be fed for free and which were not.
THE SHIFT • Between the late 1960s and early 1970s, the stated purpose of the program changed from disposal of agricultural commodities to a serious welfare program aimed at providing not only the poor with lunches, but feeding every student. • With the increasing scope of the program, the schools were forced to purchase cheaper and less nutritious foods. • This meant a shift toward private food suppliers, with schools picking the lowest bidder to provide them with food. • As the program continued to grow, the schools continued to increase the number of people they were serving while sacrificing the quality of the food.
UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES • As the quality of the food declined, the perception of the lunches as a poverty program led middle class students, who normally would have paid either full or reduced price, to stop buying lunch altogether. • As this was one of the few ways the schools themselves made money to finance the program, schools were forced to raise the price of their lunches. • More and more full-paying students continued to drop, adding to the rising food prices of the 1970s and causing the students who still continued to pay to shoulder the burden. • As a solution the government raised the income eligibility level. • In spite of the crisis the school lunch program was going through, the federal bureaucracy responsible for it continued to grow.
THE PRIVITIZATION of the NSLP • Since the federal money could be used solely for the purchase of food, many schools lacked kitchen facilities, as well as the staff needed to prepare food. • Added to this, the increasing food prices and lowering paid participation forced schools to look for private contractors in order to provide cheap food, that would not require extensive preparation. • As this system grew in popularity, conflict emerged between the private suppliers who wanted to maximize profit and those who wanted to insure their nutritional standards were being followed.
ATTACK OF THE VENDING MACHINES • A compromise was found in the use of vending machines, which were not allowed in the cafeteria, but rather in other designated areas of the school. • Specifically in poorer schools vending machines became an attractive way for schools to make additional money to supplement their meager budget. • With these vending machine contracts came scoreboard and athletic equipment sponsorships on the part of soft drink and snack companies.
FOOD “FORTIFICATION” • In 1970 the USDA discarded the Type A, B and C nutritional standards saying the government would only provide reimbursement for Type A meals. • This created the "a la carte" system, by which the suppliers would provided individual main dishes and sides allowing students to choose what they wanted to eat. • In 1979, the USDA allowed "foods of minimal nutritional value" to be sold in cafeterias, if a 100-calorie serving provided 5 percent RDA of a single required nutrient. • This led to snack and candy producers fortifying their products in order to make them saleable in cafeterias. • Fortification spread to the general food suppliers, enabling them to sell traditionally unhealthy food such as pizza as foods containing all the necessary nutrients.
With fortification, chicken nuggets and French fries entered the school lunches. Brownies can be given the same nutritional value as a slice of whole wheat bread!
FAST FOOD and the NSLP • While food companies were claiming their foods provided "proper nutrition," with children getting no more than 30 percent of their calories from fat, in fact, the foods were actually much higher in fat—the wrong kinds of fat. • The government bolstered claims that the food was healthy, with their own assurances, claiming the program could function on a smaller budget and also support the “free-market system.” • To this day schools are caught between campaigning for healthy food choices among their students while at the same time maintaining a financially viable system by providing students with the junk/fast food they want and will buy.
NSLP and the FOOD INDUSTRY • After the National School Lunch Act passed, any sector of the food industry with declining profit margins demanded that the Secretary of Agriculture declare their product a commodity. • The NSLP is run out of the USDA Consumer Marketing Service, a section of the USDA little concerned with nutrition, but with efficient dispersal of agricultural products.
The NSLP and the REAGAN ADMINISTRATION • Under Reagan, large cutbacks to the program led to a stricter set of rules than the previous system of RDAs. • In 1980, the USDA created the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and dictated that the school lunch program must adhere to them. • The guidelines called for lower fat and salt content of foods and raised the requirement for vegetables and fruits. • A small, underhanded loophole allowed a packet of Ketchup to be counted as a serving of vegetables. • With decreased funding for the program, and as children were no longer suffering from "starvation," the USDA lowered the RDA content of meals from 1/3 to 1/4 of daily requirements.
USDA DIETARY GUIDELINES: 1916-1929FIVE FOOD GROUPS http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DGAC/Report/E-Appendix-E-4-History.pdf www.pcrm.org/magazine/GM97Autumn/GM97Autumn2.html * 9 tablespoons fat is actually about 50% of calories in a 2400-calorie meal.
USDA DIETARY GUIDELINES: 1930sTWELVE FOOD GROUPS http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DGAC/Report/E-Appendix-E-4-History.pdf www.pcrm.org/magazine/GM97Autumn/GM97Autumn2.html
DR. WESTON A. PRICE • Began his research during this period, the 1930s • To answer the same question, what is a healthy diet? • The genius of Dr. Price—he looked at nutrient levels, noting that they could be satisfied by many different foods; many cultures had no grains, vegetables or fruits, yet were healthy. • Not trying to please the commodity markets • Emphasis on nutrient-dense foods such as organ meats, butter, cheese, seafood
USDA DIETARY GUIDELINES: 1940sSEVEN FOOD GROUPS http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DGAC/Report/E-Appendix-E-4-History.pdf www.pcrm.org/magazine/GM97Autumn/GM97Autumn2.html
USDA DIETARY GUIDELINES: 1956-1978FOUR FOOD GROUPS http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DGAC/Report/E-Appendix-E-4-History.pdf www.pcrm.org/magazine/GM97Autumn/GM97Autumn2.html Note: Eggs not included; No recommendations for fats or sugars
USDA DIETARY GUIDELINES: 1979-1983FIVE FOOD GROUPS http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DGAC/Report/E-Appendix-E-4-History.pdf www.pcrm.org/magazine/GM97Autumn/GM97Autumn2.html Note: Eggs not included
USDA DIETARY GUIDELINES: 1984 to PresentSIX FOOD GROUPS http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DGAC/Report/E-Appendix-E-4-History.pdf www.pcrm.org/magazine/GM97Autumn/GM97Autumn2.html