Angry Moms Want Better School Lunches

Dec. 7, 2006 — -- It's no secret that school cafeterias aren't exactly havens of healthy food. Usually, hamburgers, french fries, and chocolate chip cookies are accepted as lunchtime staples.

But two New York mothers got so fed up with the junk food in school cafeterias that they decided to do something about it. Filmmaker Amy Kalafa and dentist Susan Rubin banded together to form Two Angry Moms, a group dedicated to finding healthy alternatives to cafeteria food and helping other parents demand change.

Kalafa and Rubin sat down with "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts to talk about their quest and the documentary they recently made about it.

Rubin's career made her fully aware of the junk food her children were getting at school.

"I was a dentist for 14 years and when my first child went to school, she would come home with wrappers from all this candy and junk food, which I thought was completely inappropriate. That's how I got involved."

At one point, Rubin was even banned from her daughter's school cafeteria.

"The school made a rule that I was not allowed in the school cafeteria unless I had got prior approval from the principal and the food-service administrator," she said. "But I found I was not getting anywhere with my PTA so I went outside to get something done."

Reform Spreading Through Lunchrooms

Kalafa and Rubin traveled the country to look at school districts that are getting fresh, healthy food into their cafeterias.

In Berkeley, Calif., they found chef Ann Cooper, who is working with local farmers' markets to provide fresh food to schools. She serves lunch to 10,000 kids a day and has gotten rid of all packaged food.

A food-service director in Peterborough, N.H., provides a great example of what a dedicated food-service staff and community can do. Despite the chilly New England climate, he's still able to get a lot of food from local farms.

In Riverside, Calif., a school installed a salad bar, but the brown lettuce and canned vegetables turned off the students. By using locally grown produce and working with local farmers, they got children hooked on greens.

These types of programs, called farm-to-school programs, are growing. But many school administrators claim that they don't have money to provide fresh food because of a lack of funding.

"We can't afford not to," Kalafa said. "Our kids are getting fatter and we are spending twice as much on health care as we are on food. It's a case of pay now or pay later."

What Parents Can Do

Kalafa and Rubin offered tips for parents who want to improve the food served in their children's school.

Look at what your children are eating. Find a way to meet your child for lunch at least once.

Get involved by starting with your PTA. Show up at the next board of education meeting. Remember, the point is to come together on this issue, not to be adversarial.