Coming on the heels of the reaction to the U.S. Congress’ decision to continue to allow pizza (or the tomato sauce on pizza, rather) serve as a vegetable for nutritonal requirements, Lucky Komisar penned an op-ed for the New York Times about the cozy alliance between processed food manufacturers and what American children are eating in their school lunches.
Komisar’s piece is an indictment of the privatization of the school lunch, as companies such as Sodexo and Aramark work in tandem with manufacturers such as Tyson and Pilgrim, often leading to high fat and inexpensive foods finding their way to school lunch rooms.
Here’s one way it works. The Agriculture Department pays about $1 billion a year for commodities like fresh apples and sweet potatoes, chickens and turkeys. Schools get the food free; some cook it on site, but more and more pay processors to turn these healthy ingredients into fried chicken nuggets, fruit pastries, pizza and the like. Some $445 million worth of commodities are sent for processing each year, a nearly 50 percent increase since 2006.
In addition to the nutritional issues she brings up, Komisar speaks of the money that these food giants pocket through bulk deals with manufacturers – savings which the corporations do not pass on to the school districts in which they are contracted.
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