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A U.S. Lunch Crusade: Christopher Kimball
Thursday, October 05, 2006 | posted by Mike

Christopher KimballYou’ve heard us go on (and on and on) about Jamie Oliver’s crusade against unhealthy school lunches over in the United Kingdom, documenting the various political, educational and cultural forces at play in the story. For every person who thinks Jaime is contributing to the health and wellbeing of the country, there is another who just wants him to butt out and let the kids eat their bangers and mash or kidney pie or whatever stereotypical British dish they might be serving. (TVFF.com’s knowledge of food in the U.K. is quite limited.)

But, what has been a fun little side-story for us in the United States looks like it could become something bigger thanks to the actions of another food personality. Granted, he doesn’t have Jamie Oliver’s notoriety or boyish good looks, but America’s Test Kitchen star and Cook’s Illustrated editor Christopher Kimball is working toward making American school lunches healthier.

According to an online article from USNews, Kimball started locally (in the Boston area) and founded an advocacy group called Parents Against Junk Food. From there, he wanted to take his cause to a national level, but that’s where things got complicated:
Christopher Kimball thought it would be so easy: Point out that school lunches are unhealthful, and taste awful, too, and the Tater Tots would disappear from the menu. But with legislation he backed to reform the federal school-lunch program sidelined in Congress's rush to adjourn this week and hit the campaign trail, Kimball feels it's time to move the battle to the home front. "This is not going to be an easy thing to solve," he says.
Kimball clearly recognizes the challenges he faces, but he makes an excellent point when it comes to why changing the system in schools is important. For much of the country, children are essentially a “captive audience” when it comes to the school lunches. Due to cost or time constraints on parents, they’re reliant upon the food sold in the cafeterias and vending machines in the school. So Kimball has called for stricter rules and regulations on the types of food available to students.

Of course, the unhealthy lifestyle is also being reinforced in the home:
"Parents are feeding kids the same things at home," Kimball says of nuggets-n-Tater Tots cuisine. "This is their regular diet."
In the end, Kimball realizes that it’s more about changing attitudes and behaviors, and draws upon his experience with the magazine and show to point out that, if adults can start cooking at home, kids can also learn how to eat a more nutritious diet.
"You see people who didn't cook before," he says. "They try it, they like it, and they realize what they've been missing."



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