Parents Get the Dish On School Lunch

Nearly half the year kids are fueled for learning by school lunch food, but do they know where that food comes from? Anne Tack-Eckel, chair of the Fairfield PTA's Wellness Committee, is trying to make a difference. "We're working to get school gardens funded and improve school lunches," said Tack-Eckel. She brought her daughter Emma to Audubon Greenwich Sunday afternoon to see the documentary film, "What's On Your Plate?"

The film delivered a series of shocking facts about food, then parents discussed how to make changes in what schools feed their kids. "This was a great film that I think all kids should be shown in schools," Tack-Eckel added.

The documentary by Catherine Gund features Sadie Hope-Gund and Safiya Riddle and is all about kids and food politics. It follows the two 11-year-old African-American city kids over the course of a year and looks at the food they eat. The girls visit supermarkets, fast food chains and school lunchrooms as well as rural farms and city greenmarkets that use innovative sustainable food systems.

The film promotes organic and farm fresh eating as alternatives to fast food. That translates in the lunchroom as carrots instead of packaged potato chips. But what can parents really do to change what their children's schools are providing?

"I think a good place to start is have lunch with your child at the cafeteria," said speaker Amy Kalafa, maker of the award-winning documentary "Two Angry Moms," about food in schools. "It's important to see what your children are eating at the place where they are 180 days a year."

Suggestions emphasized the basic childhood premise that adults sometimes forget: work well with others. "Any parent interested in getting involved will find other parents want to be involved too," said speaker Michelle McCabe, chair of the Fairfield PTA Council's Fuel for Learning Partnership. "And with the PTA behind a movement, more people will be willing to listen."

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