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Friday Food News Wrap: March 25

Is it time for lunch yet? This week we’re thinking about school lunches, eating the right lunch, eating too much junk for lunch, and people who don’t have enough to eat at all.

Fresh Fruit: To start, the USDA has announced $158 million in funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program, which brings fresh fruit and vegetables to schoolchildren at low-income elementary schools across the country. This program expansion is estimated to serve an additional 650,000 to 900,000 students in the coming school year.

School Lunch: Lots of interesting thoughts about school lunch this week, especially from The Lunch Tray, which takes a look at the Chicago school food “miracle” transformation and then asks how to know if your school can do what another school does. Concerned about what everyone’s packing for lunch these days? So is Mother Fitness, who notices how many kids are eating Lunchables or just chips, and decides that “School Lunch is a Joke.” Just plain concerned? Follow the lead of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and send a comment to the USDA to prevent school lunch standards from being watered down.

Hungry Kids: Of course, there are still kids who simply don’t have enough to eat at all. In L.A. County, Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign kicked off with a goal to get more kids to eat breakfast at school. More than 300,000 L.A. County students who eat free or reduced-price school lunches don’t eat school breakfasts, the L.A. Times reports. Share our Strength also documents a Grab N Go school breakfast program in Omaha.

When School’s Out: The USDA has announced grants to help get nutritious foods to at-risk kids over the summer. The grants will be used to test innovative alternatives to help kids from low-income households get healthy food during the summer and will boost participation in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides meals to children from low-income households during summer months.

Overweight Kids: First the L.A. Times reports that overweight and obese mothers and children don’t quite realize how heavy they are. Then the Washington Post reports that parents of obese children often address the problem through tactics that are ineffective or damaging. Then the Post also reports that the rates of Type II diabetes among young people under age 20 are surging. Where does it end?

Let’s… Move?: Free Range Kids cries foul on this ad from the Let’s Move campaign that has a very odd approach – the mother makes her daughter run up and down the stairs and all around the house in pursuit of a dollar. Is that the best parenting or exercise strategy they can highlight?

Obesity Solutions: Speaking of better ways, Slate announced the winners in its “Time to Trim” Hive forum on combating childhood obesity. We were happy to see The Lunch Tray as well as many other familiar names on its list of winners.

Milk Allergies:  The L.A. Times reports on a new tactic in approaching milk allergies, based on a desensitization strategy (giving a person tiny amounts of the allergy-causing substance over time). Could it offer a sliver of hope for some kids with debilitating allergies?

Good News: After all that, can we please find something to be happy about? Mark Bittman helps us change our focus by highlighting a few things that have gone right in the past few years. Real food is spreading, farming is becoming hip, and changes in school lunches can pave the way for better nutrition. So cheer up, everyone – things can and will get better.

P.S. Don’t forget about the Bake Sale for Japan, coming up on April 2. Click on the link to find a location near you.

Happy Friday to all!

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