Public schools in the affluent suburb of Greenwich, Conn., where I grew up, are renowned for their quality of education. Their quality of nutrition, however, was something else. Even in grade school, my classmates and I recognized that the school’s lunches were virtually inedible. It was a widely held conviction that the hot dogs were made of rubber; some kids actually bounced them across the cafeteria floor. I'd rather not think about how much excess sugar, salt, fat, and artificial colorants and preservatives I ate courtesy of the Greenwich school system.
But in 2010, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. And that same year, the USDA released updated nutrition guidelines for the first time in more than 15 years, recommending new limitations on starch intake, calories, and sodium intake.
These changes are of unparalleled importance. Most of the nation’s children eat at least one meal per weekday at school. The sad reality is that many children eat only during school hours, so it's that much more important that the food they are served isn’t garbage.
It isn't just government that's trying to do something about the problem, though. Here are eight private individuals and/or organizations that are addressing school lunches and other key nutritional and education issues head-on — some with more success than others.