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School Food Policies and Strategies for Change

>From Informed Eating (December 2004 issue)

School Food, Public Policy, and Strategies for Change
By Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH

School food is a "hot button" issue, and it well deserves to be. It lies
right at the heart of issues related to equality in our society. Americans
live in a pluralistic society. For democracy to work, the interests of
constituencies must be appropriately balanced. School food is about the
balance between corporate interests and those of advocates for children¹s
health. The nutritional health of American children has changed during this
century, improving dramatically in some ways, but not in others. In the
early 1900s, the principal health problems among children were infectious
diseases made worse by diets limited in calories and nutrients. As the
economy improved, and as more was learned about nutritional needs,
manufacturers fortified foods with key nutrients, the government started
school feeding programs, and the results were a decline in nutrient
deficiency conditions. That severe under-nutrition has now virtually
disappeared among American children can be counted as one of the great
public health achievements of the twentieth century. For the great majority
of American children, the problem of not having enough food has been solved.
Whether children are eating the right food, is another matter.

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