Tuesday, September 29, 2009

School Nutrition Policies, MA on my mind

As I mentioned on Twitter this morning, french fries appear to be the lunch food of choice for students in a popular school in Queens, New York, according to the New York Times. That probably doesn't surprise anyone who works in a school or has visited one during lunch. Unfortunately, I have not.

Nonetheless, my memories of school lunch are not much different. I remember tater tots and pepperoni hot pockets being standard fare. By the time I graduated, there was a salad bar in place; it was not very popular. Occasionally, I opted for the food served as part of the National School Lunch Program (spaghetti comes to mind) and on days of cross-country meets I habitually ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which was a pretty good choice thinking back on it.

This evening I met with my Kennedy School professor, Daniel Okrent, and Rappaport Institute Executive Director, David Luberoff, to discuss my class "beat." A beat (i.e., newsbeat) is "the particular news source or activity that a reporter is responsible for covering."

My beat? The possibility (or lack of it) to pass legislation to improve school nutrition policies in Massachusetts. 

The topic intersects well with my final Master's paper which is a policy brief recommending a specific course of action to improve school nutrition policy in Massachusetts, based on evidence from other States and school districts within the Commonwealth.

I couldn't be more excited to talk to the different players in public health and school policies in Massachusetts as I research for my two news stories and one "magazine-style" article. Possibilities include MA Public Health Commissioner, John Auerbach, and Jeffrey Sanchez, Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health.

Over the next three months, I hope to become somewhat of an 'expert' on the politics of local school wellness policies and to better understand what kind of opposition food policies face when the goal is to remove unhealthy, manufactured food from childrens' school environments.  Isn't it a little hard to believe there can be staunch opposition to that?

Why has Massachusetts not passed statewide legislation to restrict and limit unhealthy foods in schools? Great question. Let me get back to you on that.


markb said...

Good luck with your research. If you need ideas or information on wellness policies, feel free to reach out to the Healthy Schools Campaign.

Healthy Schools Campaign

Kelsey Woodruff said...

One day I asked my students what was being served for breakfast- free breakfast for the whole school (low income district). The answer was chocolate cake with chocolate milk. How is that an acceptable breakfast?

Katelyn Mack said...

Mark -- thanks for checking out my blog. I will certainly follow up with you, as I'd love to hear what activities your organization are engaged in.

Kelsey - that's absurd!