Penguin and BlogHer Book Club sent me a copy of this book. I am being paid to review it. As always, the opinions are my own and are influenced by nothing more than the sound of my own thoughts.
Lunch Wars has a Preface and an Introduction before it gets down to the nitty gritty on page 15. I have 3 post-its marking things I want to remember in those preliminary pages, and each one of them relates to doing something now.
There's a list of diet related issues and their disastrous effects on children's health that covers more than 2 pages; I couldn't believe it when I turned the page and there were more bullet points over which I could cringe. Her political agenda is made clear in the beginning, too: Big Food (like Big Pharma, I guess) has put the burden on kids to move around and learn to eat well while offering to fill their little bellies with sweetened, unhealthy, too big choices. Parents are indicted along with television and un-responsive school districts and unrealistic Federal regulations.
It's easy to think of this as an angry polemic, designed to make you wonder why you got out of bed and faced the day. But that would be simplistic. Sure, Amy Kalafa is furious. Her movie is Two Angry Moms, after all. But she's also a cheerleader, a teacher and a guide. Have a problem? She's seen it and found the solution. She lets you listen as the problem-solver tells his own story.
I'd love to have a food service chef who was interested in local sourcing of fresh produce. I'm in awe of the projects described in Lunch Wars. Amy Kalafa doesn't let me relax into "but I don't have any of those resources" as I turn my attention to something else. Amy Kalafa wants me to take action immediately. This is a manual, a how-to, a Girl Scout Leader's Guidebook to fixing what's wrong with your kid's cafeteria. She tells me about Dana in San Francisco and my brain is off and running, figuring out what to do first.
The book addresses that, too. There are specific ideas and templates; no busy mom has time to re-invent the wheel and Ms. Kalafa knows that. Though my children are a decade past school lunches, this book got me thinking and wondering who I could ask .....
Oh, no.... not another project. Not for me, right now. But if I were still President of the Board of Trustees of our local school district I know that this would be at the top of my list. Lunch Wars lays it all out, including answers to snarky questions. It really seems do-able.
That's the genius of Lunch Wars. Amy Kalafa has made this an adventure tale, filled with unlikely heroes and evil, obstreperous villains. Sadly, it's not a fairy tale. And because it's all too real, this book makes all the sense in the world. This is a problem that has nationwide effects; our children are less healthy than we were and it's not their fault.
It's time for the grown ups to take charge. Lunch Wars shows you how.