One in three children born today will develop type 2 diabetes and four out of ten will be overweight. There’s a fundamental problem happening around our country when it comes to how we feed our kids and the lifelong health risks they face as a result. When we think about fixing the problem, it makes sense to look at our schools. In Boston, for example, 30,000 children a day rely on the school food system for 2 to 3 meals a day. That gives the educational system a lot of power to change the nutritional profile of our children’s diets with real food, but unfortunately, many districts are stuck relying on packaged and processed options.
Certain groups are making some amazing positive changes, though, by installing real school kitchens that serve real food. My friend Jill Shah, who joined me for this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, has led that fight in the Boston public school system with incredible results. Jill Shah is the President of the Shah Family Foundation, which supports innovative and transformative work where education, healthcare, and community intersect in the city of Boston. The foundation’s primary work and support is centered on Boston’s schools and community organizations, with the goal of sharing broadly the programs and solutions that prove successful. Jill’s civic interests include healthy food in schools, food access in high-needs neighborhoods, rigorous and successful public schools for all kids, and a deeper collaboration between education and healthcare around issues of physical, mental, emotional, and social health.
*For context, this interview was recorded on March 31, 2020
Here are more of the details from our interview:
School food programs during school closings from COVID-19 (3:36)
The experience that led Jill to work on school food program reform in Boston (7:34)
Serving whole, real food in schools costs less, employs more people, and is completely scalable (10:58)
National policy rollbacks of guidelines implemented during the Obama administration (17:58)
Improvements in children’s health, behavior, and academic performance (21:01)
The role of local governments in addressing school food programs (25:22)
How school food program reform can support local economies (30:32)
Dealing with competitive foods in schools (33:00)
Getting My Way Cafe into your local school system (41:49)
Branding My Way Cafe as a lever for change (44:25)
Learn more about My Way Cafe and reforming school food programs at mywaycafe.org and shahfoundation.org
Find the documentary Eat Up at eatupfilm.com
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