The fight against the path to starvation
By Trent Loos
There have a been a tremendous number of causes and movements that I thought were important in the past 15 years, but not one of them have I devoted as much time to as fixing the "path to starvation" set forth in the school nutrition program by the USDA and Michelle Obama. In this case, it has absolutely nothing to do with which side of the aisle you are on. It is simply the most dangerous thing facing our nation's youth today.
I realize I addressed this just a couple of weeks ago but since then something dawned on me. Kids from coast to coast are now speaking up about how hungry they are. Truly a revolt is taking place with the kids who see what is really going on.
At York High School in Nebraska, a group of students led by Erin Blum did a full-blown study on the dietary revisions and presented the dangers of the new program in a PowerPoint presentation to the school nurse and head cook. They are currently putting together a summary, including scientific documentation, to send to Sen. Mike Johanns, past Secretary of the USDA.
Travis Eubanks from Beatrice High School, also in Nebraska, is standing up for his rights as well. He understands where the "path to starvation" is heading and has created his own blog called schoollunchessuck.blogspot.com. On his blog, Travis is allowing other students to weigh in on what is happening at their schools and is actually chronicling, with photos, what he is being served for lunch at school. There is a suggestion on his blog that every state should submit a photo of what their school lunch looks like on one given day. If you care about kids, you should visit the blog today and see how to make that happen.
Absolutely the funniest and most creative piece put together comes from the Sharon Springs, Kan., school system where teachers and students contributed to a video voicing their frustration. If you have not done so yet visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IB7NDUSBOo and watch the 4-minute video called "We Are Hungry" featuring Junior Callahan Grund. In the first four days, the video has had 12,000 views. Grund is another young ag ambassador with a video that may be going viral. That is truly inspiring.
In conversations with Callahan Grund's mother, we discussed making a follow-up video featuring the already time-strapped parents who now have to figure out how to find time to either pack a lunch or supplement their student's school lunch because the USDA is trying to starve them with school lunches. If you would like to be a part of that video, get ahold of me and we will get it done.
Newspapers from California to Chicago to New York are all printing stories about how food waste is up and kids are going hungry. It is not simply a "Midwest" thing. Without question we have too many kids that are overweight. The answer does not lie in what they eat but rather in how much time they spend in physical activity. A recent report even shed light on this by clearly showing that kids who consume the most calories are thinner than those kids who eat less. The kids who eat the most are also the most active. It is that simple.
While I have walked you through several examples of how our nation's youth are speaking their mind, have you thought about who is noticeably not taking a stand on the issue? Ag commodity groups.
I am not familiar with one single organization that is truly representing the producers of our nation's food supply at this time, including the American Farm Bureau Federation. I recently sat down with AFBF President Bob Stallman and voiced my concern about the direction of the USDA under Secretary Tom Vilsack. Stallman wanted to stick up for Vilsack, which completely shocked me because not only is school nutrition suffering under his direction, but he is terrible for modern agriculture and our ability to feed the global consumer.
Then it finally dawned on me. The kids who are speaking their mind don't know anything about the political games being played. They just do what they think is right. All farm commodity groups right now are afraid to call the king on the carpet because we have our hand out in hopes of a morsel in the forthcoming legislation they still want to call the "farm bill."
You may think that pandering to the king holding the gold is a good political move, but I am sticking with the nation's greatest ambassadors of American agriculture--the farm kids who understand that if you want the corn harvested you have to get into the field and get 'er done, not just stand around hoping the government will do it for you.
Editor's note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.