School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America's Favorite Welfare Program

School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America's Favorite Welfare Program

by Susan Levine
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691146195

ISBN-13: 9780691146195

Pub. Date: 03/28/2010

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Whether kids love or hate the food served there, the American school lunchroom is the stage for one of the most popular yet flawed social welfare programs in our nation's history. School Lunch Politics covers this complex and fascinating part of American culture, from its origins in early twentieth-century nutrition science, through the establishment of the

Overview

Whether kids love or hate the food served there, the American school lunchroom is the stage for one of the most popular yet flawed social welfare programs in our nation's history. School Lunch Politics covers this complex and fascinating part of American culture, from its origins in early twentieth-century nutrition science, through the establishment of the National School Lunch Program in 1946, to the transformation of school meals into a poverty program during the 1970s and 1980s. Susan Levine investigates the politics and culture of food; most specifically, who decides what American children should be eating, what policies develop from those decisions, and how these policies might be better implemented.

Even now, the school lunch program remains problematic, a juggling act between modern beliefs about food, nutrition science, and public welfare. Levine points to the program menus' dependence on agricultural surplus commodities more than on children's nutritional needs, and she discusses the political policy barriers that have limited the number of children receiving meals and which children were served. But she also shows why the school lunch program has outlasted almost every other twentieth-century federal welfare initiative. In the midst of privatization, federal budget cuts, and suspect nutritional guidelines where even ketchup might be categorized as a vegetable, the program remains popular and feeds children who would otherwise go hungry.

As politicians and the media talk about a national obesity epidemic, School Lunch Politics is a timely arrival to the food policy debates shaping American health, welfare, and equality.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691146195
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
03/28/2010
Series:
Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America Series
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,343,056
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables vii
Acknowledgments ix
INTRODUCTION: The Politics of Lunch 1

CHAPTER 1: A Diet for Americans 10
The Search for a Scientific Diet 12
A Diet for Americans 23
Nutrition and Malnutrition 29
School Lunch as Public Policy 33

CHAPTER 2: Welfare for Farmers and Children 39
School Lunches for Hungry Children 40
Eating the Surplus 45
The Institutionalization of School Lunch 49

CHAPTER 3: Nutrition Standards and Standard Diets 54
School Lunch Standards 54
Nutrition in the National Defense 60
Eating Democracy 66

CHAPTER 4: A National School Lunch Program 71
Agriculture or Education? 73
The Liberal Compromise 76
Discrimination and Segregation 82

CHAPTER 5: Ideals and Realities in the Lunchroom 89
Nutrition and Surplus Commodities 91
Nutrition and the Food Service Industry 95
The Limits of the Lunchroom 98

CHAPTER 6: No Free Lunch 105
Discovering Hunger in America 106
Agriculture or Welfare? 108
Food and the Poverty Line 120

CHAPTER 7: A Right to Lunch 127
The Free Lunch Mandate 128
The Women's Campaign 130
School Lunch and Civil Rights 136
Eligibility Standards and the Right to Lunch 142

CHAPTER 8: Let Them Eat Ketchup 151
Who Pays for Free Lunch? 152
Combo Meals and Nutrition Standards 163
Ketchup and Other Vegetables 171
EPILOGUE Fast Food and Poor Children 179

Notes 193
Index 243

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