This Op-ed from the NY Times (not Times Select) has an interesting approach to how schools should approach the lunch period in schools. Alice Waters suggests that we should be teaching "lunch" for credit. This could be approached the way that physical education classes became status quo in the 1950's. She helped establish a program in her school district called the Edible Schoolyard, which combines education on gardening and cooking.
Schools should not just serve food; they should teach it in an interactive, hands-on way, as an academic subject. Children's eating habits stay with them for the rest of their lives. The best way to defeat the obesity epidemic is to teach children about food — and thereby prevent them from ever becoming obese.This sounds like an amazing program. I would love to see inner city kids who haven't had the opportunity to grow a garden and see where food comes from directly to have that chance. And horizontally challenged grade-school PSP addicts could put down the cheetos and the games for an hour, and help learn the benefits of healthy eating at an early age. Yes, I know the alternative arguement - "the parents are the ones that should be doing that." Well, not every parent was given that opportunity or information when they were growing up either.
[snip]Our program began at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School 10 years ago, with a kitchen classroom and a garden full of fruits, vegetables and herbs. A cafeteria where students, faculty and staff members will eat together every day is under construction, and the Edible Schoolyard has become a model for a district-wide school lunch initiative.
At King School today, 1,000 children are involved in growing, preparing and sharing fresh food. These food-related activities are woven into the entire curriculum. Math classes measure garden beds. Science classes study drainage and soil erosion. History classes learn about pre-Columbian civilizations while grinding corn.