When I first received Amy Kalafa’s Lunch Wars to review* as part of the BlogHer Book Club, Nicholas laughed. I can’t blame him. I think the subtitle, “How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health” may have seemed a bit out of place for someone who repeatedly tells her parents if they want Grandbabies, they need look elsewhere. [as in, the direction of my siblings. At least for now.]
When I got to work reading Lunch Wars, however, I was filled to the brim with information about the school lunch programs in our country, as well as knowledge about the food industries in general. It was at times overwhelming, as I paused at least once a page to share some tidbit with Nicholas who was sitting next to me. “Yeah, I know.” He would often answer. I didn’t know. But now I knew.
“How do you know all these things?” I asked him.
“They are the same things you learn in any movie or book about food from this perspective.” He replied.
“Healthy Living” Blogger confession: I’ve avoided it all until now. Documentaries I have hid from. I didn’t want to see that. Books were avoided. I read reviews on blogs and in the paper, but I refused to watch and read them myself. I wasn’t ready.
I didn’t want to know what these books and movies were saying. I already knew the knowledge being shared in these presentations was making my peers change their own eating habits and take a stance against certain foods and establishments. I didn’t want that inconvenience; I wanted to keep living my ignorant life. I didn’t want to be swayed by information; I wanted to continue planning my meals by my budget, my convenience, and my habits. I didn’t want to educate myself. I didn’t want to change.
Needless to say, when I started reading Lunch Wars, I was a little overwhelmed by all I was learning. Reading statistics about the food I’ve been eating my entire life was not always easy. [This probably explains why I felt the need to reread them out loud to Nick every so often.] I was also taking in a lot of information about the school systems in our country and how food and beverage is usually handled in correlation with school politics and budgeting, as well as how meals served at school affect the student.
It was a lot to take in. Several times, especially in the first couple of chapters, I felt like I was doing assigned reading for a college class. After sticking with it for a while, though, I started to see the book as a great tool for parents who are ready to make changes in their districts. There were several suggestions and pieces of how-to advice that I think would make a great guide for those members of the school community that aren’t happy with the food culture found in their schools.
My favorite parts of Lunch Wars were the first hand stories. Throughout all of the chapters, Kalafa shares real-life experiences of the people she has met over the course of her working on school food culture reform. Some of the stories are success stories and others are situations that haven’t found the ultimate answers just yet. These looks into the lives and encounters of others were a great addition to the pages of statistics. The positive endings of the success stories were a great balance to all the shocking details I learned about the way things are so often done.
Over all, I would suggest Lunch Wars to anyone passionate about the food they put into their bodies; but most especially parents, education majors, school faculty, district administration, and students.
Want more discussion on school lunch and Lunch Wars? Join us in the discussion on BlogHer!
*This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.