Wednesday, November 24, 2010
NOTE: This is a guest post by Jerusha Klemperer, Program Manager for Campaigns & Projects at Slow Food USA. She is also a contributor to the Huffington Post, Civil Eats, Well and Good NYC, and her personal blog Eat Here 2.
A year and a half ago Slow Food USA launched its first ever nation–wide advocacy campaign in an effort to help improve school lunch. The Child Nutrition Act--the piece of legislation that governs the National School Lunch program--was up for reauthorization a few months away. Our network of 230 chapters mobilized itself, beginning with a national day of action on Labor Day 2009. On that day 300 "eat-ins"--public potlucks with a purpose--were held in all 50 states.
In some ways we were conducting a test. Was it possible to coordinate the actions of our 20,000 members towards meaningful legislative change?
One and a half years later we have an answer to half of our question; yes, it is possible to coordinate the actions of our now 200K and growing grassroots network. What about meaningful legislative change? Well, we're not there yet! The bill has been extended twice now and our network (and our staff) has learned a lot about how unpredictable and slow the legislative process can be.
But back to the part about our network--when it comes to giving kids a chance to eat real food at least once a day, it seems our network is willing to do whatever it takes: host potlucks, write letters to Congress, make phone calls, visit legislative offices, you name it. In a tense and sometimes frustrating political climate, grassroots food systems advocacy seems to be alive and well.
Now, as Congress people return post-election for what is called their "lame duck session," urgency mounts. As Rep. George Miller said the other day: "It's this opportunity or we lose it."
We have decided that the most important thing right now is to get an improved school lunch bill passed as soon as possible. We feel that our children have waited long enough and that the several improvements in this bill--including more money per child per meal and improved guidelines for food sold outside the lunch line--represent something worth fighting for.
How you can help: Read more about the latest on this issue on the Slow Food USA blog. Then call Congress to let to let them know that we want the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (S.3307) passed now, not later. Dial 1-877-698-8228 and enter your zip code to be connected to your Representative.
Slow Food USA is a network of volunteer chapters working to change their local food systems. Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it, and good for the planet.