“Lunch Wars” Book Review Plus a Special Introduction by the Author, Amy Kalafa

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  • August 25, 2011
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Here at The Lunch Box, our entire staff has hands-on experience in the school food revolution. We understand the challenges and joys of making school food improvements. Because of our background we are especially thrilled to introduce a new and fabulous resource:

Amy Kalafa, the producer/director of the award-winning documentary “Two Angry Moms” has done her homework and offered a fantastic tool in her recent book Lunch Wars: How to Start a Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health. Kalafa’s book is practical, informative and solution oriented. Amongst the savvy advice are inspiring tales of model work happening throughout the country from a principal in Georgia who transformed her elementary school food environment resulting in dramatic health and academic improvements in her school to a mother in Washington State who successfully helped change legislation so that schools can now buy from local farmers. If you care in the least about children or health, this is a must read.

Here is Amy Kalafa’s personal introduction for The Lunch Box (and an insider scoop on how she got into the revolution):

If Chef Ann Cooper had a fan club, I'd be the President. I've had just a few inspirational role models in my life, and Ann is one of them.  How much did she inspire me?  Enough to make a movie and write a book about school food. Before meeting Ann, I'd spent roughly twenty years stewing about the sorry state of America's food system and worrying about the impact it was having on the kids.  As an organic farmer, a mom, and a television producer and editor, I had written several proposals for programs linking food, politics and health. "It's just not sexy," was the standard response.   

Then one gray December day, my then-boss, Martha Stewart, sent me across Long Island Sound to produce a story about a private school that had hired a chef from a white tablecloth restaurant to cook for students and run a wellness program. Once Ann started talking and showed me what she was doing at the school, I knew there was more to this than a 5-minute segment could show. That day I promised Ann I'd be back to film a documentary about school food. 

That was nearly six years ago.  By the time I had raised enough money to make the film, Ann had been brought on to transform the Berkeley Unified School Meals Program.  The story of Chef Ann's work in Berkeley was the penultimate part of the movie that became Two Angry Moms. Since the movie came out in late 2007, I have not managed to untangle myself from the world of school food advocacy.  The avalanche of emails I continued to receive from frustrated parents just like me, along with some serious prodding by an interested agent who's also a mom, convinced me to write the sequel to the movie in book form.  

LUNCH WARS: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children's Health is one part manifesto, one part handbook, and one part storytelling - including Ann's most recent endeavor in Boulder, Colorado. If the film, Two Angry Moms, has done its part to inspire the movement, my hope is that the book Lunch Wars will serve to ease the way and guide those who want to take an active role as advocates in their school districts. If the book can light a fire under one person, as meeting Ann did for me, it will be worthwhile!

Lunch Wars is now available in bookstores and on the web.  Visit www.angrymoms.org for more information.

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