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The Sugar Wars

Photo credit: James Hunter

Today’s menu at Spanish Fort High School is home-made chili, corn, and fresh fruit—and cafeteria manager Donna Swanson is braced for a horde of hungry kids. “To them, that’s a great meal. They’ll tell me it’s even better than what they get at home!” It’s also a healthy one because Swanson cares about providing the right kind of calories to her kids—so much so that when NEA asked members to lobby for the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act late last year, Swanson signed right onto the Legislative Action Center. “Our food service programs are so important—and it’s all about starting young and helping them make good choices.” At Spanish Fort, in Alabama, rainbows of raw veggies pop off the line with a little low-fat ranch dressing. “Children eat with their eyes,” she said confidently. “If you can make it look good, they’ll try it. And they’ll learn to like it.”  With the new law, Swanson will have more money for healthy choices, less competition from vending machines, and also additional training for cafeteria personnel. “I just hate to see kids eating junk food,” she said.

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