Weaves together history and agriculture, advocacy and bureaucracy, and frames the current debate over school lunch reform within a larger national and political context.
The Lunch Line is part of the Do Something Reel that’s sponsored by Whole Foods. Apparently, they’re having a film festival and this one actually is a very good documentary that looks at something that most people don’t think very much about, at least I don’t, which is the school lunch program which was started in the 30’s and how it’s evolved or devolved and how it’s under the USDA, which is the group that both deals with the lunch program and also with surpluses in this country. This is the same group of geniuses that decided ketchup was really a vegetable. But given the fact that there are millions and millions of kids for whom the school lunch is their primary meal of the day, it’s an important issue in a country that’s dealing with a recession and obesity all at the same time. Some really thoughtful issues, and basically, like an awful lot of issues in government, it seems like the solution is to throw more money at it. But I’ve also seen a documentary that says doing something as simple as just putting a bowl of fresh fruit near the cash register in a school lunch line can increase the incidence of kids actually choosing fruit over sugar. The reason that there are so many sugary things in school lunches is because — and the documenter talks about this — the original guidelines had to do with calories and nutrients rather than food. And so you can put all those nutrients in a gummy bear and because the calories on things like fruits and vegetables are relatively low, what they do is put sugary things in there to get the calorie count up. But it’s disastrous for the kids. So very interesting, thought-provoking documentary about not only school lunches, but how we eat and how we make decisions and how you get conflicts of interest within the government, what a surprise. But a very interesting documentary, four stars.