Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Angry moms fight junk food in schools

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I am the lucky mom of two kids, a three-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy. Motherhood has been a fun, tumultuous ride. Most days I'm showered and relatively together. Put another way, I've purchased our school supplies, but am short three glue sticks. I will take a deep breath when my son steps onto the kindergarten bus later this month, wave wildly, then sniffle on home. He'll be a school-kid. I won't be able to protect him from bullies and homework, or kiss his boo-boo if he gets beaned in the head in gym. But I can deal with this, the role of a mother continually changes and I adjusted quite easily to no diapers and a smart aleck comment now and then. But my mom has always told me, "little children, little problems." She's right -- bigger problems loom ahead. When my kids start carrying cash and beating to their own drummer, I cannot stop them from reaching for the a la carte junk sold in the school cafeteria. When I read this story about two moms starting a grassroots movement to take the junk food out of schools, I stood up and cheered.

Susan Rubin and Amy Kalafa are sick of it. They are so disgusted at the highly processed, sugary foods in U.S. schools they shot a documentary. Called Two Angry Moms, the film is about a parental war against the junk offerings in U.S. schools. Rubin founded the advocacy group Better School Food and has three school-age daughters, and Kalafa is an independent filmmaker with two daughters. Awhile back Kalafa heard a state agricultural official say it would take 2 million angry moms to change school food in our country. This was the spark that lit this brushfire, and I hope it roars into one giant wildfire. Rubin and Kalafa are fighting to remove fried foods, cookies, candy, chips, doughnuts, snack cakes and sugary drinks from school cafeterias and vending machines. Their goal is to replace the junk with healthier foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Kalafa stated the documentary is mostly inspirational, showing people wonderful things can be done when parents get involved.

We have got to do something. One-third of our nation's kids (25 million) are overweight or obese, at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, among other problems. Schools and community theaters can host screenings of Two Angry Moms through a special information kit with 10 DVDs ($275), and single DVDs will be available for $25 this fall.

I'm working on my masters in elementary education with a middle school certification. I just finished a big 'ole research paper on the lack of nutrition in the schools. I've read dozens of studies and government reports on the issue -- I also came across many success stories of schools making sweeping changes at absolutely no cost liability to the school nutrition budget. As a parent and future educator, you can bet I will advocate for better school nutrition, and Two Angry Moms will be a good resource. Who knows, it might even prove a catalyst for change. Never underestimate an angry mom. We vote. Are you one? Read the full story and view movie clips at USA Today.

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