The politics of food in our schools and classrooms

Posted by on September 15, 2006

Feeding the Children
The politics of food in our schools and classrooms

MILWAUKEE, WI – ?You are what you eat,? goes the saying. Well, for years schools have been feeding children some dubious ideas about food. School cafeterias and classrooms are where many of children’s ideas about food are solidified. And in a culture dominated by corporate fast-food chains and large-scale corporate agriculture, many of the messages students get are profoundly unhealthy.

This special edition of Rethinking Schools takes a look at cafeteria food, vending machines, advertising, agribusiness, and student health issues. It also brings to light some excellent teaching about food and highlights farm-to-school connections that are revolutionizing school food.

Rethinking Schools is a national education publication published by current and former classroom teachers.

The following articles appear in Rethinking Schools’ summer 2006 edition:

o Feeding the Children, by the editors of Rethinking Schools. As obesity, diabetes, eating disorders, and other health-related problems spiral out of control in the United States, it’s worth taking a look at not only what goes into our students’ mouths, but also what goes into their minds regarding food.

o Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds, by Barbara Miner. Although it needs improvement, the federal school lunch program fills a need.

o Fossil Food: Consuming Our Future, by Tom Starrs. Americans use more than three times as much energy to obtain our food as to fuel our homes, writes Starrs. ?The implications of agricultural energy use for the environment are disturbing.?

o There’s No Business Like Food Business, by Michi Thacker. Students explore the secretive journey from farm to table.

o Home Cooking, by Linda Christensen. The author invites students to close their eyes and remember the smell, sound, and taste of the food of their homes. Writing about food can make them feel ?at home.?

o Sowing Seeds of Solidarity, by Leah Penniman. Schools in Massachusetts partner with a nonprofit to teach children and communities the benefits of fresh, local food.

o ?Yuck! Worms Are Disgusting,? by Rachel Cloues. Fourth graders find their classroom worm bin offers ecological and social lessons.

o Hunger on Trial, by Bill Bigelow. A role play on the Irish Potato Famine offers meaning for today.

o Lessons from Ana. When a new student arrives from an orphanage in China, a teacher rethinks classroom activities where children play with food.

o Who Really Benefits from School Soda Contracts? By Nicola Pinson. When cash-strapped schools make deals with beverage companies, schools and students lose out.

o Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, by Catherine Steiner-Adair and Lisa Sjostrom. A program helps young people develop healthy relationships to food and their bodies.

o Got a Little More Than Milk, by Tim Swinehart. Students get a glimpse into the corporate-controlled food system by looking at the politics of food.

o Videos with a Conscience, by Ryan Zinn. Some valuable resources to help teachers and students examine the politics of food.

Also in this issue of Rethinking Schools:

o Immigration Action. A collection of essays, poetry, and photos documenting the groundswell of demand for immigrant rights in the United States.

o A Dark Cloud on the U.S. Horizon, by Melissa Schieble. A teacher’s experience in England is a cautionary tale.

o Promises, Promises, by Scott Key. What students need to know to make good decisions about military service

Rethinking Schools is a nonprofit, independent, quarterly journal that advocates education reform in elementary and secondary public schools.

Download a PDF of the full issue for $5 by visiting our website at Annual subscriptions to the magazine are $17.95. To order, call 1-800-669-4192.

Free review copies are available to the media. Call 414-964-9646 or send email requests to:

View articles from the current issue, back issues, and other publications on our website:

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