Food is one of the most important things you’ll ever buy for your children. And yet, most people never bother to think about their food and where it comes from.
The food we eat enters our body and literally becomes part of us. Americans spend more money on fast food than on college education, personal computers, or new cars. Why not spend that money on food that is nutritious for our children and helps them develop?
Of every $1.50 Americans spend on a large order of French fries, about 2 cents goes to the farmer. Bistro Kids buys directly from local family farmers, retailers, and food producers, who in turn get all the proceeds.
Typical school lunch food (chicken nuggets, French fries, pizza) can be made healthier and with no trans fats, but it’s more expensive to do so. Bistro Kids lunches are made from scratch. We use no trans fats or processed ingredients like other food service management companies. Our students are worth it.
Bistro Kids uses locally sourced, sustainable, all natural foods.
Processed school lunches are full of artificial flavors and ingredients. Both are manmade and give processed food its taste.
Evidence shows homegrown, whole foods have a positive impact on everything from behavior, to test scores, to attendance. Children, regardless of their socioeconomic status, perform better in school if they increase their fruit and vegetable intake and decrease their caloric intake from fat and processed foods.
100 hundred years ago, the first school lunch programs weren’t created to make money. They were started because American children too often didn’t get enough to eat.
By 1946 the national school lunch program was serving 6.7 million children, “to safeguard the health and well being of the nation’s children.”
As the years have passed, the needs of children have become less important than the needs of companies selling them soda, candy, and fast foods.
Today, 43% of elementary schools, 74% of middle schools, and 98% of high schools have soda machines, candy machines, and snack bars or stores that sale a la carte foods high in sugar, fat, and salt. Many schools depend on the money from these sales to pay for sports equipment, trips, and activities.
Today more than 40% of the children in NYC public schools are overweight, and almost 25% are obese. Schools that implemented America’s first lunch programs because poor kids were hungry, are now providing too much unhealthy food to eat.
A typical teenage boy drinks more than 156 gallons of soda a year, getting almost 13% of his daily calories from soft drinks. Each can of soda is equivalent to about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Research shows that eating too many unhealthy foods can damage the brain. Foods that contain too much sugar and the wrong kinds of fats (trans) can cause your blood vessels to thicken and narrow. That can limit the amount of blood reaching the brain, reducing its ability to work properly.
In 2004 the Chez Panisse Foundation agreed to help the Berkeley Unified School District change the food that it served in every one of its schools. They now prepare healthy meals for 9000 students every day, privately raising the money to do so.
Like these California organizations, Bistro Kids is the first Farm 2 School Lunch Program of its kind in Kansas or Missouri. We strive to protect the environment, sustain local farmers and food producers, and change the way our children think about food.
Our mission is to become an integral part of the school community by empowering, teaching, and feeding as many students as possible kid friendly meals that are healthy, seasonal, delicious, and whenever possible, locally grown.
*Excerpts from this piece have been adapted from:
Chew On This, E. Schlosser & C. Wilson, 2006
School Library Journal.com, D. Whelan, 2008