Tom Laskawy at Grist ran across this CBS report on school lunches in France. The gourmet, five-course meals that every child eats offer a sharp contrast to our mostly horrible school-lunch system and, as Laskawy notes, it seems impossible for us to institute even modest reforms. The reauthorization of the Childhood Nutrition Act, which the Senate has passed but the House has not, is mired in politics; its fate relies on what happens in November. And it didn't pass in the House because progressives have to make an unfair choice: It gets part of its funding by cutting an increase in future food-stamp benefits.
Still, the way the French feed their children mirrors the way the French eat. To what extend does the way we feed our children reflect our food habits? Laskawy wonders:
While France clearly represents the gold standard for school lunch programs, it's unclear whether we can manage even the mildest reforms here at home. Yet it's still worth watching this report if only to remember that there is nothing "natural," "rational," or "inevitable" about our school lunch program. We made it the way it is. And just as the French school lunch program says something important about the French national character, so too does our failing system say something important about ours.
This strikes me as true. I think one of the reasons most Americans haven't gotten up in arms about the prevalence of chicken nuggets and pizza in school lunches is because they often buy those foods to feed their families themselves. Telling the entire country that we're doing it wrong has never been an easy sell.
-- Monica Potts