school foodIf Michelle Obama and Sam Kass were to eat this recent DC school meal, it would cause a sensation.(Ed Bruske)

The one thing never mentioned at all these White House events around childhood obesity is the food kids are actually eating at school every day.

Let’s see, we’ve had loads of kids to the White House to help in the vegetable garden.

We’ve had pow-wows with food manufacturers and food service providers to talk about making food healthier.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

We’ve even invited a gaggle of chefs in their white jackets to spend a day on the White House lawn talking about how they can help.

And now major domo White House Chef Sam Kass has been on “Morning Joe” and come darn close to announcing that the status quo is good enough. At least tater tots are OK once in a while, right?

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

But there’s one group that Michelle Obama has not invited to the White House, one that has perhaps the biggest stake of all in this battle against childhood obesity: parents.

Actually, you don’t need to invite us to the White House. Instead, the First Lady could get parents all over the country fired up by proclaiming an Eat Lunch with Your Kid Day. Imagine millions of parents showing up at school to sample some of that industrially processed convenience food the kids eat every day.

If you think about it, that’s what really separates Jamie Oliver, star of the “Food Revolution” TV series, from Michelle Obama and Chef Kass. Jamie Oliver has actually been inside a public school kitchen, and spent time in the lunchroom to see what the kids were eating. Imagine what would happen if the First Lady and Kass just showed up at a D.C. elementary school one day for lunch, bringing all those television cameras with them. They wouldn’t have to go to very far. In fact, they could stop at Bancroft Elementary, the school that sends all those kids to volunteer in the White House garden. They eat the same food that’s served at my daughter’s school here in the District of Columbia.

I wonder if they’d see the processed turkey meat doused in canned gravy that you can’t cut with a “spork” and that the kids eat with their fingers. Or the reheated potato wedges, bag of Sun Chips, and strawberry milk that passes for a federally subsidized meal. Or maybe the “glycemic bomb” pictured above: breaded chicken with barbecue sauce, canned beans, and macaroni and cheese — a symphony of browns.

Whatever it is, pictures of FLOTUS and Kass eating it would create a sensation. The world would stop to look. And parents all over the nation might be inspired to get involved. Of course, they’d probably be mad as hell, and you might not be able to contain them after an event like that. Maybe that’s why the White House hasn’t done it?


Cross-posted from The Slow Cook and La Vida Locavore.