Food As Medicine Goes to School

Most of our exploration on this documentary film has been on addressing adult chronic illness with diet.  We’ve learned that no matter what age, it’s never too late to change the way you eat to start seeing differences in your health.  The earlier you start eating healthier, the more likely you are going to evade chronic suffering.  So, healthy futures can start with kids!


Last week, we visited Portland Public Schools to talk with Gitta Grether-Sweeney, the director of Nutrition Services to find out how they are able to feed 48,500 students a healthy lunch that is way above national health standards on a budget of $1.35 per meal.  We were told that it began by cutting out the processed junk with page-long ingredient lists and returning to the kitchen to create those meals in a simpler way.  Pizza was on the menu the day we visited.  To improve upon the overwhelming favorite with kids, PPS Nutrition Services works with a local company to provide a whole-wheat dough, which is sustainably sourced from nearby Washington state.  The sauce is without high-fructose corn syrup.  And, the pizza is finished off with low-fat mozzarella cheese.  The meal was completed with a spear of asparagus (a featured vegetable of their Harvest of the Month program) and unlimited fruits and vegetables from a gorgeous salad bar.


And, there was no ranch salad dressing to be found at the salad bar!  We asked Gitta about this, and she told us she had observed kids drenching, dousing, and even eating the dressing by the spoonfuls and decided it was time to switch to a vinegarette in the schools.  By cutting out ranch dressing, they were able to reinvest that $60,000 in savings into a higher quality, whole-muscle chicken nugget without fillers.

We could go on and on about the awesome stuff PPS Nutrition Services and their cafeteria staff are doing, but we’ll save that for the documentary!