Until Jamie Oliver's show last year, I confess that I'd never given much thought to the healthiness of school lunches. Growing up as a vegetarian in Texas, it was always an issue of "stuff I eat" vs. "stuff other people eat." School lunches were never really an option, unless I was desperate enough to pick the pepperoni off of the pizza. But I still found my way to all sorts of junk food.
And that is probably the most valuable contribution Amy Kalafa makes with Lunch Wars: cafeteria lunches are only part of the picture. The really bad foods are often doled out in the classroom as "rewards," in vending machines, from ice cream salesman. I didn't get fat from my mom's healthy lunches. I got fat from Flamin' Hot Cheetos and Everlasting Gobstoppers (sadly, I seem to have as little resistance to these forms of crack today as I did when I was 15. But I digress).
However, while Kalafa's heart is clearly in the right place, I found the book a little too evangelical in nature. She wants you to feel bad about the choices your children make in school, and seems to suggest that protecting schoolchildren means becoming a nutritional Big Brother, keeping eyes on them at all time in case of trans-fats.
That said, this is an extremely serious issue, and I'm glad to learn a little more about it before (God forbid) I bring my own spawn into this universe.
Be sure and check out the great discussions at BlogHer about the issues raised in this book.
This review was paid for by BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are entirely my own.