A coalition of consumer groups, calling themselves the National School Food Action Committee, plans to present a petition to the Department of Agriculture asking the agency to upgrade the quality of the meals served at school lunches and breakfasts and in other federal feeding programs.
The petition will be presented on April 21 because that is the third annual Food Day, a day dedicated to improving quality of the American food supply. The petition castigates USDA because it has "allowed, and even encouraged, the use of non-nutritious and imitation foods" and because "it has dropped its ban on the sale of junk foods . . ."
The committee, headed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, asks the Agriculture Department to:
Limit the amount of fat, cholesterol, sugar and salt in the meals and increase the amount of fiber and the use of natural foods.
Encourage the preparation of fresh foods bought as much as possible from local farmers and merchants and prepared on site. At the same time, evaluate the nutritional as well as psychological effects of serving pre-plated frozen TV-type dinners which are often shipped in from hundreds of miles away.
Train food service workers on how to serve nutritious foods.
Ban the use of artificial colorings and preservatives that might be harmful.
Reissue the ban of sale of non-nutritious junk foods and substitute such nutritious foods as nuts, fresh fruit, yogurt.
Involve students as well as parents in menu planning.
According to Alice Scott, a member of the committee: "Parents and children both are disgusted with the poorly prepared, non-nutritious stuff that passes for food at some schools."
The committee called the "high-sugar, nutrient-fortified pastries" served in some school breakfast programs as "the most reprehensible item used in school meals . . ." These pastries include Astrofood, Super Donut and Super Krumb Kake.
Further information is available from National Food Action Committee 1757 S St. NW Washington, D.C. 20009. The School Food Action Packet costs $1.50 but is available to low income groups at no cost.
The D.C. Board of Education has passed a resolution to upgrade the nutritional quality of the food served in the city's public schools. It calls for minimizing the use of pre-sweetened cereals and of sugar in all foods served in general as well as a ban on the purchase of any food stuffs on which the manufacturer does not publicly disclose the percentage of sugar.
Last week listerners to a local radio station were asked to call in and express an opinion about the rights of tuna fishermen versus the rights of porpoises.
The method by which tuna are caught kills thousands of porpoise a year and the government has set limits on the amount that can be destroyed. The fishermen say these restrictions are putting them out of work.
The radio station, WRC, asked its listeners whether the porpoises should be saved or the fishermen should be allowed to fish without restrictions; 74 percent said the porpoise should be saved.
All tuna is not caught by the method that also kills porpoises; only light meat tuna is. Alternatives are white tuna (albacore) and bonita, a tuna-like fish that tastes very much like it.