Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lunch Wars

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.


  1. I'm glad you brought this up. My 9 year-old is getting pudgy. We are trying to instill in her that she needs to make healthy choices when eating. Hubby was even making hers and her younger sister's lunches for a while. But we went away for a week and my sister was watching the kids and they started eating cafeteria food. I really want him to go back to making their lunches. At least that way, we know what they are eating.

    The good thing is that although it may sound big-brother-esq, we do see what our girls are eating online. We can see their whole lunch account. Hubby has relegated ice-cream to once a week.

    We have signed our girls up for Tae-kwon-do and I'm seeing a difference in my older daughter, but as a mom of three, it's hard to watch over them all the time--especially at school. We need to instill in them that they need to make good food choices.

    I will check out this book because I've been at a loss on how to address this issue. I thought the only way I could was to at least get my daughter to realize that some of this is based off her own choices.

    Thanks for the review of the book.

    Megan xxx

  2. Megan,
    Send me an email ( with your address and I'll send you my copy of the book. You are EXACTLY the person for whom it is meant.

  3. I enjoyed your review. I guess I also respect Amy Kafala for helping others in the process, I just kind of hope they don't take her up on her offer. :)


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