The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Slow Food potluck encourages healthier school lunches

The table held several foods consistent with an average Labor Day potluck.

But among the sweet potatoes, broccoli-raisin salad, and potato chips, one dish stood out: a giant loaf of bread baked in the shape of a snail, the symbol for Slow Food, an organization working to urge the government to increase its funding for school food.

“It’s a symbol of our movement because it’s slow and delicious,” said Kurt Friese, a member of the organization.

Roughly 80 people attended the “Labor Day Potluck in the Park” on Monday to support updating the Child Nutrition Act this fall.

The picnic, held at Lower City Park, was hosted by the Iowa City chapter of Slow Food, whose members are hoping the legislation will bring healthier meals to their kids.

Federal funding for K-12 lunches is $2.57 per meal, an amount Slow Food members would like to see increase by $1.

There isn’t a set date yet for Congress to vote on the legislation, and Friese said he believes the voting will be pushed back because of the health-care debate.

This would further the frustration Slow Food members have with the current school-lunch program. Group representatives believe Iowa City school officials do not receive enough funding to ensure the children’s meals are healthy.

“I don’t want to give the slant that we’re not willing to work with school people,” said Kelcey Brackett, who, with wife Rachel Horner Brackett, is in charge of running the Iowa City Slow Food chapter. “Their hands are tied; they don’t have enough money.”

Nationwide, more than 200 Slow Food chapters sponsored potlucks this weekend. Along with Iowa City, other Iowa towns to host the picnics were West Liberty, Grinnell, Des Moines, and Clear Lake.

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, made an appearance at the potluck, and Slow Food members said they were glad to have his support because he sits on the committee that oversees the legislation.

“He sits on the Education and Labor Committee, so it was big to have him here,” Friese said.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 1 out of 3 kids — and half of minority children — born in or after 2000 will develop diabetes.

Friese said cutting down on high fructose in food will prevent this number from rising and that this makes the Child Nutrition Act a down-payment on a better health system.

Critics of upgrading the Child Nutrition Act say the federal government will have too much control over their kids’ food, according to Horner Brackett, who is also a UI graduate student.

“Critics don’t want the government telling our kids what to eat,” she said. “But it’s already doing that.”

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