How The Food Industry Eats Your Kid’s Lunch

fries ketchupLucy Komisar, who contributed the essay “Dirty Money and Global Banking Secrecy” to the disinformation anthology Everything You Know Is Wrong, contributes a major op-ed to this Sunday’s New York Times:

An increasingly cozy alliance between companies that manufacture processed foods and companies that serve the meals is making students — a captive market — fat and sick while pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. At a time of fiscal austerity, these companies are seducing school administrators with promises to cut costs through privatization. Parents who want healthier meals, meanwhile, are outgunned.

Each day, 32 million children in the United States get lunch at schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, which uses agricultural surplus to feed children. About 21 million of these students eat free or reduced-price meals, a number that has surged since the recession. The program, which also provides breakfast, costs $13.3 billion a year.

Sadly, it is being mismanaged and exploited. About a quarter of the school nutrition program has been privatized, much of it outsourced to food service management giants like Aramark, based in Philadelphia; Sodexo, based in France; and the Chartwells division of the Compass Group, based in Britain. They work in tandem with food manufacturers like the chicken producers Tyson and Pilgrim’s, all of which profit when good food is turned to bad.

Here’s one way it works. The Agriculture Department pays about $1 billion a year for commodities like fresh apples and sweet potatoes, chickens and turkeys. Schools get the food free; some cook it on site, but more and more pay processors to turn these healthy ingredients into fried chicken nuggets, fruit pastries, pizza and the like. Some $445 million worth of commodities are sent for processing each year, a nearly 50 percent increase since 2006…

[continues in the New York Times]

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  • Jin The Ninja

    if a school were feeding my kids preservative laden gmo factory food, that would be reason enough to homeschool regardless of curiculum.

  • Jin (仁)

    if a school were feeding my kids preservative laden gmo factory food, that would be reason enough to homeschool regardless of curiculum.

  • Anarchy Pony

    More wondrous results brought to you by the capitalist profit motive!

  • Anarchy Pony

    More wondrous results brought to you by the capitalist profit motive!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Karnes/1645262280 Nate Karnes

    Get rid of federal money in education and you’ll get rid of this problem.  If taxpayers in rural communities could pay their local property taxes in food instead of Federal Reserve Notes, the local schools would have plenty of healthy food for their students.

    • Jin The Ninja

      so ‘donating’ the same GMO corn being used to manufacture pseudo-chicken, is somehow going to allieviate the problem? o_-

    • Anarchy Pony

      That is making a lot of assumptions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Karnes/1645262280 Nate Karnes

    Get rid of federal money in education and you’ll get rid of this problem.  If taxpayers in rural communities could pay their local property taxes in food instead of Federal Reserve Notes, the local schools would have plenty of healthy food for their students.

  • Jin (仁)

    so by ‘donating’ the same GMO corn being used to manufacture psedo-chicken, is somehow going to allieviate the problem? o_-

  • Anarchy Pony

    That is making a lot of assumptions.

  • Christopherdemilio

    Learn to pack you child a lunch?  A healthy one?  Maybe?  Problem solved?

    • Christopherdemilio

      *your

    • Jin The Ninja

      many lunch programs are subsidised for low income kids, and most parents work f/t- making your proposition un teneable for many people.

      • SuperSerial

        uhh not really it takes 10 minutes to pack a lunch……its called responsibility, doing something when you really don’t want to  or maybe that falls into character either way its perfectly doable people aren’t helpless they can pack a lunch if they really want to

        • Jin The Ninja

          well if they cannot afford to buy food (since 17 million american kids go hungry)- your little diatribe about ‘responsibility’ falls a bit flat.

          school breakfasts and lunches again are subsidised for low income families.

          why not in fact, change factory farmed lunches into something healthful, and sustainable instead of defend an indefensible system designed to poison kids in an educational environment?

          • SuperSerial

            Thats what food stamps are for

          • Jin The Ninja

            lol. school lunches and breakfasts that are subsidised are different than foodstamps.

            and how far do you think foodstamps go?

          • Christopherdemilio

            I lived off food stamps for 2 years.  I recieved 200 dollars a month and I had 30 dollars left over at the end of every month.  You get plenty.

          • Jin The Ninja
          • Christopherdemilio

             Cute article.  Don’t have kids if you can’t feed them.  Don’t have kids if you have to work 3 minimum wage jobs.  Don’t have kids if you can’t support yourself.  Don’t have kids until you figure your life out and can support another one.  What do you want me to say?  We should all be aloud to do whatever we want and depend on our neighbor to take care of my problems for me?  Grow up.  Assistance is the word.  Not dependency.  I lived on Food Stamps from ’09-’11 while collecting unemployment.  The safety net is there.  It’s your job to dig yourself out, not mine. 

          • Andrew

            School lunches for kids = dependency = bad

            Food stamps and unemployment for adults = assistance = good

            Got it!

          • Jin The Ninja

            I love how it’s OKAY for you to collect unemployment/bennies, but when it comes to other people, particularly women and children, it’s BAD.

          • Jin The Ninja

            The average [food stamp] recipient gets $134 a month in assistance,
            which works out to $4.40 a day. That’s 10% less than the US Department
            of Agriculture’s “thrifty” meal budget, and about half its “moderate”
            budget. For your average well-fed American, living on a daily ration of
            less than $5 for food prepared at home would be hard to imagine. But
            without SNAP benefits, 46 million people would be in a state of anguish
            rather than just scraping by.”Yet, this is one area the Republicans are keen to target for cuts. They want to reduce spending on food stamps by around 20%, and in June, voted to slash a different health and nutrition scheme (WIC) for poor pregnant women and children by 10%, which would have denied assistance to around a quarter of a million people.”

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/dec/09/land-of-free-home-of-hungry

            So 3 people are able to eat on 4.40 a day?

          • Christopherdemilio

             Live life first before you comment on it.

          • Jin The Ninja

            read a book before you open your ill informed mouth.

          • Christopherdemilio

            Read a book?  I’m reading Atlas Shrugged.  And back to my point, live life before you comment on it.  I LIVED ON FOOD STAMPS FOR 2 YEARS.  I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.  Do you know how much food you can buy with $200 a month?  FOOD.  NOT SUGAR.  

          • Jin The Ninja

            ” I’m reading Atlas Shrugged. ”

            that isn’t a book, in the sense of an external source of knowledge. that is a fictional account of one women’s descent into sociopathy and drug addiction without any of the sympathetic narrative elements of autobiography.

            and interesting that’s the exact title i assumed you might mention.

            of course you’re “reading” it…. lol

            read something other than the one and only “book” on the tea party reading list.

            “Do you know how much food you can buy with $200 a month? FOOD. NOT SUGAR.”

            what does that even mean? and yes, in fact i do know how much, and it is very little. no produce, aside from a few cans, mostly preservative filled prepared foods. But at the end of the day, the lunches in question are subsidised so food stamps and subsequent discussion have no context to the topic.

            come back when you’ve read a proper book, a newspaper and engaged with legitimate issues of poverty, not just a fox news parody/pantomime of right wing talking points.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5M4L5B7FXCQXLTDYCIQ4GMYNTI Potter

            poor people need to start thinking of the cost of children before fucking.

          • Jin The Ninja

            or rich corporations with the sociopathic profit motive, need to factor in the health of CHILDREN before they seek to profit off of people who do not have adult legal rights/recourse.

            perhaps school boards need to be democratised and end the reign of neo-liberal business model pedagogy.

            poor people in my view, have body autonomy and can f*ck whomever consenting adult they want.

            being poor shouldn’t disenfranchise people from engaging in the social institution of marriage or childrearing.

          • justagirl

            good point, but, in the meantime why allow your children to eat “iffy” food?  plus, the sentiment that goes along with a packed lunch is something that low income children could really use.  but, more often, poor moms and dads are too depressed or selfish to think about that.  it’s very rare that they are “working f/t” most can’t find a job or don’t want to.  the amount of money or food stamps it takes to buy a packed lunch 5 days a week doesn’t equal that much.  especially compared to the amount of money that is being thrown away on things like phone bills, cable, lottery tickets, etc.  

          • Jin The Ninja

            the caricature you painted of poor people is demonstrably false, and i wholeheartedly disagree.

          • justagirl

            it’s not a caricature.  it’s called real life and the true wisdom of it comes with a bitter serving of experience.

      • Christopherdemilio

        Bullshit.  You know, I know it.  

  • Christopherdemilio

    Learn to pack you child a lunch?  A healthy one?  Maybe?  Problem solved?

  • Christopherdemilio

    *your

  • Eric

    Criminal tendencies that accomplish nothing except making our kids and the food industry’s wallet fat!!!

  • Eric

    Criminal tendencies that accomplish nothing except making our kids and the food industry’s wallet fat!!!

  • JaceD

    There is always the option of…. making your kids lunch….?

    When I was at school I always had a packed lunch, sandwiches, fruit and a muesli bar. Good as gold.

    • BuzzCoastin

      this comment kinda betrays your age
      Mom’s don’t stay home and pack lunches any more
      haven’t for decades now
      plus
      these meals are for “disadvantaged” kids
      who’s Mom and Dad’s don’t have enough money or training
      to select good food for a packed lunch

      it’s nice that Uncle Homey spends a few dimes to feed the unfortunate
      too bad the 1% use it as a welfare program for corporate profits

      • JaceD

        “Mom’s don’t stay home and pack lunches any morehaven’t for decades now” 
        This is a pretty big claim, perhaps in America parents don’t make lunches for their children anymore, although I’m sure plenty do. Also I didn’t always rely on my mum to make my lunch, often I would do it myself. It’s not hard to butter some bread, throw some left-overs in and grab some fruit out of the fridge. You’re lunch is ready in about 3mins, quicker than standing in line waiting for some processed shit that will make you sick I’m sure.

        It’s fantastic that the disadvantaged children are being fed at school with free lunches, but I’m sure parents know that an apple is better for you than a piece of deep fried chicken.

        Also curious as to what age you think I am?

        • BuzzCoastin

          > Also curious as to what age you think I am?

          here my best guess:
          you were born between 1945 & 55
          British white middle class family
          two parents with better than a high school education
          maybe you had a stay at home Mom
          always had food in the fridge
          probably had “leftovers” too

          on the other hand these kids
          are from the lowest socioeconomic levels
          one parent family, maybe just Gramma or “foster” parents
          their caregiver probably hasn’t graduated from high school
          their families have been on public assistance for generations
          “leftovers” are probably cold fries (chips) from Mickey D’s
          it’s possible that the best meal they get is the school lunch

          • JaceD

            Interesting guess, completely wrong but interesting as to how you interpreted my comment. I was born in the late 80′s. From New Zealand. Grew up with a single mum and younger brother, my father spent most of his time in and out of jail so I never had a relationship with him. Spent some years at university.

            How much does it cost to buy fast food in America compared to fresh fruit and vegetables? Because ingredeints for a stew costs about $15 including meat and that can last for about 2-3 days, whereas “Mickey D’s” lasts about 10 seconds. Leftovers can be anything from the rough cuts of meat to the veggies you didn’t eat the night before.

            “If you don’t eat your dinner now you’ll be having it for breakfast”.

            Food for thought.

          • Mr Willow

            Because ingredeints for a stew costs about $15 including meat and that can last for about 2-3 days, whereas “Mickey D’s” lasts about 10 seconds.

            Mickey D’s has a dollar menu for a reason, and their food is so processed it could survive a nuclear attack.

          • Jin The Ninja

            if that’s a signal to nuke mcd’s i am open to it.

          • JaceD

            *sigh* okay, I suppose dying from over processed food is probably better than eating healthy. Well, it’s easier at least.

            I suppose the Mc D’s combos are probably about 12 times the size of the combos you get anywhere else in the world, so far enough if people eat there often, and especially if it’s so cheap (it’s about $8.50 for a big mac combo here). Still wouldn’t recommend eating it though, unless it’s 3am on a sunday and you’re drunk as skunk and just need to eat something on your stagger home. 

          • BuzzCoastin

            well, i didn’t claim to be clairvoyant
            but NZ is a pretty sheltered place compared to the US
            your take on this is very US 1950′s
            middle class arrogant in its assumptions

            there are 21 million kids on this program
            NZ has 4.3 million people
            so, you haven’t a clue
            you’re also assuming these people share
            your middle class NZ experience and knowledge
            like they’ve ever had a stew not out of can
            or that their caregiver cares enough to cook
            or even knows how to cook or has the time to do it
            a quick fix at Mickey D’s is more common than not

          • JaceD

            I think you need to relax abit buddy. The point of this debate is that there are healthier alternatives for lunch than hot chips.

        • Redacted

          How dare you. Fried Chicken was created by God and given to Moses as his people wandered the desert for 40 years.

          • JaceD

            I apologise! Moses was a pretty awesome guy, I bet he loved his fried chicken!

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/SDGHYKRODBXAIPWTZPPUUMCOAI Ray

        Moms need not stay home to pack lunches.  Many adults pack lunches for themselves every day and yet manage to work full time.  How does that work?

  • Anonymous

    There is always the option of…. making your kids lunch….?

    When I was at school I always had a packed lunch, sandwiches, fruit and a muesli bar. Good as gold.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    this comment kinda betrays your age
    Mom’s don’t stay home and pack lunches any more
    haven’t for decades now
    plus
    these meals are for “disadvantaged” kids
    who’s Mom and Dad’s don’t have enough money or training
    to select good food for a packed lunch

    it’s nice that Uncle Homey spends a few dimes to feed the unfortunate
    too bad the 1% use it as a welfare program for corporate profits

  • Jin (仁)

    many lunch programs are subsidised for low income kids, and most parents work f/t- making your proposition un teneable for many people.

  • Anonymous

    uhh not really it takes 10 minutes to pack a lunch……its called responsibility, doing something when you really don’t want to  or maybe that falls into character either way its perfectly doable people aren’t helpless they can pack a lunch if they really want to

  • Anonymous

    “Mom’s don’t stay home and pack lunches any morehaven’t for decades now” 
    This a pretty big claim, perhaps in America mothers don’t make lunches for their children anymore, although I’m sure plenty do. Also I didn’t always rely on my mum to make my lunch, often I would do it myself. It’s not hard to butter some bread, throw some left-overs in and grab some fruit out of the fridge. You’re lunch is ready in about 3mins, quicker than standing in line waiting for some processed shit that will make you sick I’m sure.

    It’s fantastic that the disadvantaged children are being fed at school with free lunches, but I’m sure parents know that an apple is better for you than a piece of deep fried chicken.

  • Jin (仁)

    well if they cannot afford to buy food (since 17 million american kids go hungry)- your little diatribe about ‘responsibility’ falls a bit flat.

  • Anonymous

    Thats what food stamps are for

  • Jin (仁)

    lol. school lunches and breakfasts that are subsidised are different than foodstamps.

    and how far do you think foodstamps go?

  • Jin (仁)

    lol. school lunches and breakfasts that are subsidised are different than foodstamps.

    and how far do you think foodstamps go?

  • Jin (仁)

    lol. school lunches and breakfasts that are subsidised are different than foodstamps.

    and how far do you think foodstamps go?

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    > Also curious as to what age you think I am?

    here my best guess:
    you were born between 1945 & 55
    British white middle class family
    two parents with better than a high school education
    maybe you had a stay at home Mom
    always had food in the fridge
    probably had “leftovers” too

    on the other hand these kids
    are from the lowest socioeconomic levels
    one parent family, maybe just Gramma or “foster” parents
    their caregiver probably hasn’t graduated from high school
    their families have been on public assistance for generations
    “leftovers” are probably cold fries (chips) from Mickey D’s
    it’s possible that the best meal they get is the school lunch

  • Suddenly Spam!

    How dare you. Fried Chicken was created by God and given to Moses as his people wandered the desert for 40 years.

  • Suddenly Spam!

    Hungry children are indeed a problem. I believe rat poison does the trick.

  • Redacted

    Hungry children are indeed a problem. I believe rat poison does the trick.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting guess, completely wrong but interesting as to how you interpreted my comment. I was born in the late 80′s. From New Zealand. Grew up with a single mum and younger brother, my father spent most of his time in and out of jail so I never had a relationship with him. Spent some years at university.

    How much does it cost to buy fast food in America compared to fresh fruit and vegetables? Because ingredeints for a stew costs about $15 and that can last for about 2-3 days, whereas “Mickey D’s” lasts about 10 seconds.

    Food for thought.

  • Anonymous

    I apologise! Moses was a pretty awesome guy, I bet he loved his fried chicken!

  • Mr Willow

    Because ingredeints for a stew costs about $15 including meat and that can last for about 2-3 days, whereas “Mickey D’s” lasts about 10 seconds.

    Mickey D’s has a dollar menu for a reason, and their food is so processed it could survive a nuclear attack.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    well, i didn’t claim to be clairvoyant
    but NZ is a pretty sheltered place compared to the US
    your take on this is very US 1950′s
    middle class arrogant in its assumptions

    there are 21 million kids on this program
    NZ has 4.3 million people
    so, you haven’t a clue
    you’re also assuming these people share
    your middle class NZ experience and knowledge
    like they’ve ever had a stew not out of can
    or that their caregiver cares enough to cook
    or even knows how to cook or has the time to do it
    a quick fix at Mickey D’s is more common than not

  • Anonymous

    I think you need to relax abit buddy. The point of this debate is that there are healthier alternatives for lunch than hot chips.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5M4L5B7FXCQXLTDYCIQ4GMYNTI Potter

    poor people need to start thinking of the cost of children before fucking.

  • Jin (仁)

    if that’s a signal to nuke mcd’s i am open to it.

  • Jin (仁)

    or rich corporations with the sociopathic profit motive, need to factor in the health of CHILDREN before they seek to profit off of people who do not have adult legal rights/recourse.

    perhaps school boards need to be democratised and end the reign of neo-liberal business model pedagogy.

    poor people in my view, have body autonomy and can f*ck whomever consenting adult they want.

    being poor shouldn’t disenfranchise people from engaging in the social institution of marriage or childrearing.

  • Anonymous

    *sigh* okay, I suppose dying from over processed food is probably better than eating healthy. Well, it’s easier at least.

    I suppose the Mc D’s combos are probably about 12 times the size of the combos you get anywhere else in the world, so far enough if people eat there often, and especially if it’s so cheap (it’s about $8.50 for a big mac combo here). Still wouldn’t recommend eating it though, unless it’s 3am on a sunday and you’re drunk as skunk and just need to eat something on your stagger home. 

  • justagirl

    good point, but, in the meantime why allow your children to eat “iffy” food?  plus, the sentiment that goes along with a packed lunch is something that low income children could really use.  but, more often, poor moms and dads are too depressed or selfish to think about that.  it’s very rare that they are “working f/t” most can’t find a job or don’t want to.  the amount of money or food stamps it takes to buy a packed lunch 5 days a week doesn’t equal that much.  especially compared to the amount of money that is being thrown away on things like phone bills, cable, lottery tickets, etc.  

  • Jin (仁)

    the caricature you painted of poor people is demonstrably false, and i wholeheartedly disagree.

  • Christopherdemilio

    Bullshit.  You know, I know it.  

  • Christopherdemilio

    I lived off food stamps for 2 years.  I recieved 200 dollars a month and I had 30 dollars left over at the end of every month.  You get plenty.

  • Christopherdemilio

     Live life first before you comment on it.

  • Food For Thought

    It’s all social engineering. They WANT the poor who can’t afford to bring food from home to get sick. Population control.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/SDGHYKRODBXAIPWTZPPUUMCOAI Ray

      Yes, because they die so quickly that way.  None of that pesky public school expense or the need to provide jobs when they grow up.  lol

  • Food For Thought

    It’s all social engineering. They WANT the poor who can’t afford to bring food from home to get sick. Population control.

  • Jin (仁)
  • Jin (仁)
  • Jin (仁)

    read a book before you open your ill informed mouth.

  • Christopherdemilio

    Read a book?  I’m reading Atlas Shrugged.  And back to my point, live life before you comment on it.  I LIVED ON FOOD STAMPS FOR 2 YEARS.  I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.  Do you know how much food you can buy with $200 a month?  FOOD.  NOT SUGAR.  

  • Christopherdemilio

     Cute article.  Don’t have kids if you can’t feed them.  Don’t have kids if you have to work 3 minimum wage jobs.  Don’t have kids if you can’t support yourself.  Don’t have kids until you figure your life out and can support another one.  What do you want me to say?  We should all be aloud to do whatever we want and depend on our neighbor to take care of my problems for me?  Grow up.  Assistance is the word.  Not dependency.  I lived on Food Stamps from ’09-’11 while collecting unemployment.  The safety net is there.  It’s your job to dig yourself out, not mine. 

  • Christopherdemilio

    Another cute article.  See comment above.  

  • Jin (仁)

    ” I’m reading Atlas Shrugged. ”

    that isn’t a book, in the sense of an external source of knowledge. that is a fictional account of one women’s descent into sociopathy and drug addiction without any of the sympathetic narrative elements of autobiography.

    and interesting that’s the exact title i assumed you might mention.

    of course you’re “reading” it…. lol

    read something other than the one and only “book” on the tea party reading list.

    “Do you know how much food you can buy with $200 a month? FOOD. NOT SUGAR.”

    what does that even mean? and yes, in fact i do know how much, and it is very little. no produce, aside from a few cans, mostly preservative filled prepared foods. But at the end of the day, the lunches in question are subsidised so food stamps and subsequent discussion have no context to the topic.

    come back when you’ve read a proper book, a newspaper and engaged with legitimate issues of poverty, not just a fox news parody/pantomime of right wing talking points.

  • Andrew

    School lunches for kids = dependency = bad

    Food stamps and unemployment for adults = assistance = good

    Got it!

  • justagirl

    it’s not a caricature.  it’s called real life and the true wisdom of it comes with a bitter serving of experience.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/SDGHYKRODBXAIPWTZPPUUMCOAI Ray

    Yes, because they die so quickly that way.  None of that pesky public school expense or the need to provide jobs when they grow up.  lol

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/SDGHYKRODBXAIPWTZPPUUMCOAI Ray

    Moms need not stay home to pack lunches.  Many adults pack lunches for themselves every day and yet manage to work full time.  How does that work?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/SDGHYKRODBXAIPWTZPPUUMCOAI Ray

    A useful tidbit for those who think that the dearth of stay at home moms is the cause of so many food problems.  My mother and stepmother both worked full time and yet made three meals a day every day including school lunches.  The only reason that people make fewer meals at home is because it’s easier to not do so and because it’s encouraged by the propaganda (advertising) industry.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/SDGHYKRODBXAIPWTZPPUUMCOAI Ray

    A useful tidbit for those who think that the dearth of stay at home moms is the cause of so many food problems.  My mother and stepmother both worked full time and yet made three meals a day every day including school lunches.  The only reason that people make fewer meals at home is because it’s easier to not do so and because it’s encouraged by the propaganda (advertising) industry.

  • Jin (仁)

    another right wing troll. got it.

  • Jin (仁)

    The average [food stamp] recipient gets $134 a month in assistance,
    which works out to $4.40 a day. That’s 10% less than the US Department
    of Agriculture’s “thrifty” meal budget, and about half its “moderate”
    budget. For your average well-fed American, living on a daily ration of
    less than $5 for food prepared at home would be hard to imagine. But
    without SNAP benefits, 46 million people would be in a state of anguish
    rather than just scraping by.”Yet, this is one area the Republicans are keen to target for cuts. They want to reduce spending on food stamps by around 20%, and in June, voted to slash a different health and nutrition scheme (WIC) for poor pregnant women and children by 10%, which would have denied assistance to around a quarter of a million people.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/dec/09/land-of-free-home-of-hungry

    So 3 people are able to eat on 4.40 a day?

  • Jin (仁)

    I love how it’s OKAY for you to collect unemployment/bennies, but when it comes to other people, particularly women and children, it’s BAD.