Janet Poppendieck, author of Free for All: Fixing School Food in America, spoke at the Second Harvest Food Bank School Lunch Nutrition Summit in Watsonville, CA, an event focused on school lunch reform.
The cafeteria is an important opportunity to teach students about what to eat, says Poppendieck, and when pizza and nachos are the norm, it sends the wrong message. She notes that the food industry spends 10 to 12 billion dollars a year on advertising food products to teenagers and children—roughly the same amount spent on the national school lunch program. She takes the audience through the ABCs of school food, and argues for free, healthy school lunches that teach important life lessons about a healthy diet and the value of eating together. Recalling her visit to Sweden, which has a free school lunch program, Poppendieck says: “I can tell you that it works.”