This is the tale of three school districts and the mothers asking for healthier school lunches.
31 million GMO school lunches are served daily to our children in America.
These meals also contain food dyes, pesticides, synthetic chemicals, and high fructose corn syrup which have been linked to diabetes, autism, food allergies, ADHD, and autoimmune diseases.
We are three Moms requesting that Choicelunch (which offers pesticide-free, dye-free, and high fructose free and WILL supply GMO-free lunches to our districts if accepted) be considered as a vendor for our schools and offer a second option.
We have 3 minutes before our school board at an open meeting to present.
Two weeks ago, Kathleen Hallal approached her school board in Irvine; she took the approach of not focusing on GMOs and just requesting that the food be synthetic chemical and pesticide free. Then she met with her school's Food Services Department, shared the full story of health risks and behavioral impact, and left the meeting saying, "Zen, it was like a miracle!” The Food Services nutritionist who was also present has a 14-month-old, and she already knew something about organic food. Both she and the director were open to the idea of having a “clean food” option. They were interested in not just offering a second choice but replacing some of the other foods in the cafeteria as well!
Zen Honeycutt (that’s me) presented last week to my board. I was nervous, but I quoted stats and chose to mention genetically modified foods once during the three minutes. I am not sure if it is because I mentioned GMOs or not, but my district is taking a different view. Yesterday, I requested a follow-up meeting with my Food Services Director but was told, “I have just been advised that the Board is not interested in pursuing the Choicelunch option at this time. Therefore there is no need to pursue this further and set up a meeting with the company.”
I implored the Food Service director to meet with me anyway, as her program assessment would make a difference.
Instead of a response from her, I got a response back from the Board of Ed, saying that they are not interested “due to all the reasons the food service director previously explained to you.”
Which was... that the Board of Ed decided not to...which is not a reason...
I wracked my brain. Then a journalist from the OC Register, who is doing a story on what I proposed, called me and told me that she just spoke to the Food Service Director, and she reasoned that food was too expensive and that they didn’t want to offer healthier meals to some kids but not to others. The last reason made me want to scream inside ...so do NOTHING?? So NO child gets a choice?
I was afraid I might turn into a screaming banshee, so I took a deep breath and responded with as much clarity as possible.
I addressed the cost only first, explaining how the online cost of $4.50 is for individual orders. The district cost would be only 15 cents more or less than our current price of 2.50, and parents are willing to pay a dollar more, resulting in a 1.5 million dollar profit for the school district if only 25% of the students in the district ordered the lunches. That money could potentially go towards improving the organic options in the national lunch program meals for the kids who cannot afford 5.00 more per week, resulting in improved lunches for all.
Their response was, “the cost was the least significant reason for the decision. It is more about the implications it would have on our Federal and State programs. The Board is not willing to jeopardize funding or compliance issues.”
ARRRRGH!!! It’s always money over health! Always! And that is why the status of our children’s health is the way it is!!
Again, breathing, I responded, “Ok, I understand you do not want to jeopardize funding or compliance issues. Of course. This program is successfully working in 250 other schools, however, that have worked out funding and compliance issues. Can I connect you with a food service director and board member from another school where they have sorted that out?”
The response 5 minutes ago was, "No, thank you. The board has made their decision.”
What has my chest tighten and throat clench is the thought and fear that somehow, I am messing this opportunity up for thousands of kids in my district...that the way I am being about this, persistent, passionate, and clear that GMOs are one of the reasons for my request to offer a healthier lunch, is somehow screwing it up. Kathleen did better not mentioning GMOs. I have a history with my food services director where I did discuss GMOs with her, so she knows this is a mission of mine. What boils my blood is that GMOs might even be controversial. What has me deeply dismayed is the possibility that the Food Services director disagreeing with my approach for any reason could affect the health of so many. The skepticism, the fear of rocking the boat with the current system, and the resignation that things could be any other way are soul-crushing. It feels like the worst defeat of all because it affects children's futures. But I know I am not defeated.
I want to be clear. I WANT to affect the federal and state programs. I WANT to have less money go towards nutritionally bankrupt, toxic GMO food with additives like high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, and synthetic chemical pesticides that have been linked to autism, diabetes, ADHD, life-threatening food allergies, autoimmune disorders, and more. I am proposing a plan for THAT food to get less of our money and organic food to get more. YES.
I ask all Moms and anyone who wants to rock the boat, disrupt the current system, and put a dent in the 31 million GMO meals served a day to our kids, to stand up and speak at your board meeting. It just takes one to speak, but it will take thousands of us supporting the speakers to have this happen.
Monica Serratos presents at her school board tonight. She is a woman of great generosity, clarity, and leadership, and we know she is going to do great. We pray her school board allows a further inquiry into what is possible for the sake of our children.
Look up choicelunch.com for a CA vendor that has promised GMO-free lunches to large school districts by fall.
If you have a school lunch vendor that offers GMO-Free and organic, please tell us, and we will share them with the nation.
If you present to your board, let us know your approach and results. Together we can do anything.