Let's face it, lunch is often on people's minds during the day, especially in New York City. Whether it is an ethnic meal in one of the city's many diverse neighborhoods or a pretzel from a street vendor, the Big Apple offers a range of delicious food. There is, however, one exception--public schools. In cafeterias across New York City, many children are being served meals composed of frozen pre-roasted commodity chicken parts and beef with texturized vegetable protein. It's neither nutritious nor appealing.
With more than 860,000 meals to serve a day, the New York City public school system and the SchoolFood program struggle to provide more nutritious options on a budget of $2.43 per meal. Limited kitchen equipment makes it hard for short-handed cafeteria staff to cook meals from scratch. Instead, many of the meals are thawed and reheated.
The kids notice, too. When a teacher at P.S. 130 in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, asks his students what they would change about their school lunches, one girl quickly declares, “I want to have food that’s actually cooked.” Her classmates roar in approval.
With help from wellness initiatives that educate about the dangers of unhealthy eating, people can learn about the importance of nutrition and take control of their meal decisions. This project aims to highlight the efforts being made in schools across the city to improve what is being served for lunch.