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E-News                                                        May 31, 2017
The Least Equitable Place in School

Stigma - rice and poor street signsMany people are passionate about feeding hungry kids, but think that focusing too hard on the nutritional value of that food is just icing on the cake. To quote someone I spoke with recently: “If I had to choose between kids not eating and kids eating Doritos, I’d choose kids eating Doritos.” But that’s a false choice. If we stopped offering unhealthy options, kids wouldn’t go hungry. In this county, if we all worked together to agree there is a problem and to solve it, we already have the resources, skills and knowledge to both offer healthy foods and train kids to eat them.

The Nutrition Gap
So what’s the difference between eating a healthy and unhealthy school lunch? A recent Brookings Institution study showed that across the board, contracting with a
. . . for kids on Free and Reduced-priced Meals (FARMs), eating a healthy lunch raised test scores
40% on average.
healthy meals provider raised test scores by 4%. But for kids on Free and Reduced-priced Meals (FARMs), eating a healthy lunch raised test scores 40% on average. When we look at the achievement gap, there is no solution more cost effective and easy to implement than improving school meals.

You only have to look at the lunches kids eat to see the difference. While middle class kids who can afford to bring lunch are eating meals like this:

Whitman HS 9th gradeLunch - 2nd grade Bradley Hill ES

kids on FARMs in MCPS are eating meals like this:

IMG_1938lunch from BCC 10.28.15
Kids' brains can only do so much when they're lacking the nutrients necessary to function.

Stigma
School Lunch by the Numbers
Children in MCPS enrolled in Free and Reduced-priced Meals (FARMs) 35%
Average Daily Participation in elementary school: 55%
Average Daily Participation in middle school: 30%
Average Daily Participation in high school: 20%

What do these numbers tell you?

To me, they show that by high school, virtually only children on FARMs are eating school lunch. Worse than that, 15% of children who desperately need to be eating school lunch are not, and some portion of them may be going hungry.  It also tells me that by high school, everyone knows who gets free meals:  they’re the kids entering the cafeteria. This may be when they exit the school bus in the morning and head to the cafeteria to get breakfast or at lunch time when kids who can afford it eat off campus, in the hallways or outside. So while there is no overt identification of FARMs students, because of low student satisfaction with the school food, kids on FARMs are identified nonetheless.

Stigma and inequity around school lunch can be increased in other ways. When a la carte foods (chips, cookies, ice cream, etc.) are offered in only one line or in a kiosk, kids recognize that the remaining line is the “free lunch line” and segregate themselves accordingly, with kids on FARMs waiting much longer for their lunch than kids in the a la carte lines. It is also obvious on the table: only the kids with the money to buy ice cream, cookies and soft pretzels will have those a la carte items that kids on FARMs can’t access for free.

To solve the equity problem, RFKM and the MCCPTA have both endorsed the idea of transitioning to scratch-cooked food and installing best practices fresh fruit and salad bars, which is currently being done in many districts around the country, including some of the largest. This would drastically improve the quality of the food and bring a wider diversity of students to the cafeteria.

The first step in this process is for the Board of Education (BOE) to hire an outside consultant to assess the resources, training and equipment MCPS would need to convert to scratch cooking and install best practices salad bars. We call on the Board to take this step as soon as possible. Please write the BOE at boe@mcpsmd.org and encourage them to take this first step.

Sample text (please personalize):
Dear Members of the Board of Education:
As a parent in MCPS, I am writing to ask that you hire a consultant to assess the resources, training and equipment MCPS would need to convert to scratch cooking and install best practices salad bars in all schools. I am concerned about the equity of a system in which children on FARMs eat low quality meals that virtually no paying students will eat by high school, and their impact on academic performance. The recent Brookings study (http://tinyurl.com/mzvy8b4) showing that kids on FARMs performed 40% better on standardized tests when their school contracted with a healthier meals provider indicates the importance of nutrition for optimum academic performance.
Thank you.
Sincerely,
(sign your name with the school(s) your child(ren) attend)

 

Montgomery Week in Review Discussion on RFKM

Mayor SlavinSomerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin discusses Real Food for Kids - Montgomery and the sugar in MCPS breakfasts on a new episode of Montgomery Week in Review. Mayor Slavin begins talking about RFKM at the 19:06 mark.
 

Lindsey Parsons Podcast Podcast with RFKM Executive Director

Listen to RFKM Executive Director Lindsey Parsons talk about RFKM's history, current issues, and more on the Launch Podcast: Charity Focus.
 

Culinary Summer Camp for Middle School StudentsMCPS CTE 2017

Do you have a child in middle school? If so, you may be interested in exploring the Career Technology Education (CTE) summer program. Your child will receive hands-on experience with the culinary arts, food service management skills, and more. Not only would it be an enjoyable experience, but they would be obtaining invaluable skills as well. Check out the CTE summer camp website for more information.
 


Articles, Jobs, and Events of Interest 

The FCPS "Clean Team" - What's in School Food? 

Modest increases in kids' physical activity could avert billions in medical costs

Hey kids, salt stays and grains go in school meals (changes to federal nutrition standards)

Fruits, Vegetables in Diet May Lower Risk of PAD

Jobs

Smart Sacks Program Manager – Manna Food Center, Gaithersburg MD

School Cook – Chesterbrook Academy, Gaithersburg MD

Events

How to Start a Food Business in Montgomery County
June 7, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Agricultural History Farm Park, Derwood MD

Food Recovery and Access Working Group Meeting  - Come discuss a new project to distribute 20,000 pounds of meat, produce, bread and prepared foods to needy families every month in MoCo. RSVP by June 9. Dinner provided.
June 14, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Silver Spring United Methodist Church
8900 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD (Downtown Campus)

 
Our work wouldn't be possible without you! Please get engaged in our work by making a donation today!
 
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realfoodmcps@gmail.com
www.realfoodforkidsmontgomery.org
(301) 202-4812

Real Food for Kids - Montgomery is a 
grassroots parent and student
advocacy group working to promote whole, real, local, sustainable 
and nutrient-rich foods in the Montgomery County Public Schools in
Maryland and is a chapter of Real Food for Kids.

 




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