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Karen Stillerman

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About the author: Karen Perry Stillerman is an analyst and advocate for transforming the U.S. agriculture and food system to one that produces affordable, healthful foods for consumers; reduces air and water pollution; and builds healthy soil for the farmers of tomorrow. She holds a master's degree in public affairs and environmental policy. See Karen's full bio.

Americans Agree School Lunch Isn’t Broken (So, Congress, Don’t “Fix” It)

With a presidential campaign upon us, many Americans will no doubt soon tire of hearing about poll results. But this week brought news of an interesting national survey that has nothing to do with the current crowded field of presidential candidates, focusing instead on a closer-to-home topic: the quality of school lunches. The poll’s results? By large margins, Americans think school cafeterias serve better and healthier food than they did just five years ago, and almost unanimously agree that healthy school lunches are important to children’s future success. Read More

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No More Excuses: School Lunches Can Be Healthy!

Over the last several days on this blog, a colleague and I have documented some of the silliest excuses used by the School Nutrition Association (SNA) to turn back new healthy school lunch rules. But we’ve saved the best most cynical excuse for last. Read More

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Lobby Group Puts the “Salt” Back in Salt Lake City (and School Lunches)

Today we continue our look at the School Nutrition Association’s silliest excuses for rolling back healthy school lunch rules (see last week’s Part 1 and Part 2). As the association’s leaders and members hob-nob with their food industry benefactors in the land of the Great Salt Lake, I thought it would be appropriate to look at SNA’s statements on sodium. Read More

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Excuses, Excuses: The School Nutrition Association’s Dumbest Reasons for Rolling Back Healthy School Lunch

“The dog ate my homework.” It’s an overused excuse, and pretty transparent, but you can forgive children for inventing creative excuses for not doing their work. When grown-ups do the same, it’s harder to swallow. Such is the case of the School Nutrition Association—an organization purportedly run by adults, ostensibly to guarantee nutritious food for kids at school. Yet SNA is employing an impressively ridiculous list of reasons the nation’s schools should be allowed to keep serving unhealthy junk food. Read More

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The School Nutrition Association—Opposing Better Nutrition in Schools Since 2013

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. An organization representing tens of thousands of “lunch ladies” nationwide is leading the charge in Congress to roll back key healthy school lunch rules—including requirements for less sodium, more whole grains, and more fruits and vegetables on kids’ school lunch trays. Read More

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Who’s Against Healthy School Lunches for Kids? (No Really, Who Is?)

Debates about child nutrition and the quality of taxpayer-subsidized school lunches are heating up in the nation’s capital. Last week, the Partnership for a Healthier America (the non-profit spin-off of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative) held its annual summit here. And this week, the School Nutrition Association, a trade group representing 55,000 school food service professionals, is holding a DC conference complete with “lunch ladies” lobbying members of Congress. Sounds great, right? Read More

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Kids Need Healthy Food, Not Halloween Every Day

Most people I know—young and old alike—love Halloween. Roaming darkened streets in disguise is fun and exciting, and candy (let’s face it) is delicious. Still, you probably don’t don a zombie get-up or send your kid to school as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle every day of the year. And your kids don’t pig out on the equivalent of a respectable Halloween haul on an average day. Or do they? Read More

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Healthy Food and Hospitals Go Together Like Peas and Carrots

Recently I visited Helsinki, Finland, where in midsummer locals and tourists alike buy fresh peas at the outdoor market, shelling and eating them out of the pod while walking down the Esplanade. I’ve never seen so many people—young people, old people, even babies in strollers—snacking on raw vegetables on the street. Read More

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As School Year Ends, Will Congress Fail Lunch?

UPDATE (June 12, 3:40 p.m.): The House vote on the school nutrition waiver, expected last night, was postponed. According to reporting by the New York Times today, the vote has been delayed “until sometime next week,” although that could change. Meanwhile, the public can keep writing to Congress in support of healthy school meals!

A Congress that is already routinely failing science is poised to flunk an even simpler school subject: lunch. As early as this evening, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill to fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including school nutrition programs. Shockingly, the bill they’ll vote on contains a provision that would roll back new healthy school food standards, just as they are starting to bear fruit. Read More

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How Monsanto Supersized a Problem in Under Three Minutes

Well actually, it took about 5 years for our friends at the Monsanto Company to start turning regular old weeds into a crisis of “superweeds.” But they did it, and another decade on, farmers everywhere are paying the price. Now, using the magic of speed-drawing, we’ve taken this age-old tale of weedy villains and chemical “superheroes” (with fatal flaws), and boiled it down to just 2:29. Read More

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