Schools, Institutions, and Food

In 2011, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation sponsored a nationwide contest rewarding the healthiest schools with recognition. Four elementary schools in New York City scored high by distinguishing themselves with “healthy eating and physical activity programs and policies that meet or exceed stringent standards.” One took chocolate milk off the menu; one offered yoga classes for kindergarteners and their mothers; one taught health and wellness classes to staff members at lunch; while another offered kids a cooking class.

At the same time, the gigantic L.A. Unified School District, which had removed soda from its school cafeterias in 2002, banned chocolate and strawberry flavored milk, because of its sugar content. The schools of Berkeley, CA, and Boulder, CO, also shunned those drinks.

Playgrounds and farms

In the summer of 2011, Indiana, one of the unhealthiest states, was a mess, so the nonprofit organization KaBOOM! created three new playgrounds. As an anti-obesity measure, 10 of the city’s public schools initiated fruit and vegetable gardens for the benefit of students, teachers, and the community.

In the fall, Indianapolis Parks Foundation and Indiana University Health got together to form Indy Urban Acres, an organic farm project that is still active, providing food, education, and volunteer opportunities to local residents.

At the higher education level, the 19 hospitals collectively known as IUHealth teamed with Green B.E.A.N. Delivery to form “Garden on the Go.” The truck still sells fresh produce in low-income areas of Indianapolis, but is currently closed due to the pandemic crisis — a real shame because its customers are in serious need of food availability.

Schools across America

The cost to prepare a school meal includes labor, benefits, food, and transportation. Nationwide, it hovered around $3.09. Idaho got used to the idea that, because of a new federal law requiring more fruits and vegetables, school meal prices would go up. In those days, an elementary school lunch was $1.50 and a secondary school lunch was $1.75.

A New Hampshire senator, among others, asked the federal government to rethink the new school lunch requirements that had been announced, in order to comply with the previous year’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The Food Service Director of Maine noted that while fulfilling the new rules would cost as much as an additional 64 cents per plate, the federal government was expected to reimburse states only an additional 6 cents per plate.

The aspect that really bothered many people was that the money to pay for this would be extracted from SNAP and other food programs. Sure, in the long run, society and the government as a whole would recoup the costs by needing to treat less obesity. But meanwhile, the availability of funding was a sore point everywhere.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Four city schools recognized as among nation’s healthiest,”, 06/16/11
Source: “Hitting The Streets: Health System Offers More Than Words In Fight Against Obesity, Indiana University Health,”, 06/17/11
Source: “School lunch prices will go up,”, 06/14/11
Source: “Ayotte calls on feds to reconsider new school lunch requirements: Says they are too costly to implement,”, 08/08/11
Image by woodleywonderworks/(CC BY 2.0)

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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