Out to Lunch: School Meal Nutritional Standards
“When you have eaten and you are satisfied, praise God for the good land God had given you” (Deuteronomy 8:10)
The sing-song-y nature of the Birkat Hamazon is stuck in my head as I write this post. Kakatuv v’achalta v’savata uveirachta et Adonai elohecha al ha’aretz hatova asher natan lach… How often have I chanted these words without realizing what they say? Food Day is about paying attention – paying attention to what we eat, to where we eat, to how we eat, to why we eat, and to how we think about what, where, how, and why we eat.
So let’s pay some attention. “When you have eaten and you are satisfied.” The Torah isn’t quite known for being particularly generous or repetitious in its language. There must, then, be a difference between simply eating, and being satisfied. Satisfaction implies more than fullness - it implies a well-rounded, healthy state of being. Both eating AND being satisfied are necessary before a meal can really be complete.
This line of reasoning is present in the school meal nutritional standards, championed by the First Lady and signed by President Obama. A result of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, these new regulations give USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all food sold in schools, provide additional funding to schools that meet updated nutritional standards for federally subsidized lunches, and help communities establish and grow local food sources – to name a few.
This act is definitely progress, but there’s still more work to be done. 16.7 million children in America live in households where they do not have a steady supply of nutritious food. In fiscal year 2010, 47% of all SNAP participants were children.
As we get ready for food day, let’s do more than just pay attention. Let’s take action. Let’s resolve to help the most vulnerable among us access the resources they need to eat and be satisfied.
Image courtesy of Food Day