When: Wed., Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m. 2011
The meat loaf, tater tots and olive-drab green beans in my public school lunches in the '70s were no one's idea of gourmet food. But the meals were simple and hot and more or less reflected the common-sense nutrition standards of the day. Receiving your daily communion tray from a smiling lunch lady made you feel like the adult world was looking out for your well-being.
In 2004, Amy Kalafa, a TV and film producer and an organic poultry farmer living in upstate New York, produced a segment for Martha Stewart Living about a private school in the Hamptons that hired a chef to improve on the standard model, with delicious and healthful meals made from scratch, using fresh ingredients. She decided to look into the subject of school lunches more broadly, starting at her daughter's public middle school.
It was when Kalafa offhandedly asked about the computerized checkout system, and was shown a readout of her daughter's purchases, that a crusader was born: "I was truly shocked to discover that she had been purchasing fries, Rice Krispies Treats, Pop-Tarts, and soft drinks on a daily basis," she writes. First in the documentary film Two Angry Moms, and now in the book Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children's Health, Kalafa tells how she learned to fight an out-of-control food industry that looks out for its own well-being at the expense of children. She hopes to inspire an army of "angry moms" to bring the fight school by school, district by district, to keep sugary junk and chemical crap out of the cafeterias. The free reading and discussion starts at 7:30 p.m.; Whole Foods will provide snacks (probably not Pop-Tarts). —Marc Maximov