She’s so dedicated to changing food in our schools that she got the leading role in a movie about the actions she’s taking.
Meet Dr. Susan Rubin. As a parent, she got involved with traditional programs in public schools to try to bring in healthier food options. Years later, she says all she got was frustrated by all the bureaucracy. So she started the nonprofit group, Better School Food (BSF). Here’s how the program is Making a Healthy Difference.
It started with candy wrappers
Yes, candy wrappers were making their way home from school with one of Susan Rubin’s daughters. Rubin was a dentist at the time, and was immediately concerned.
“I was really shocked to find out the stuff was coming out of the cafeteria,” Rubin recalls.
But it wasn’t just about cavities. Rubin was worried about the overall health of her children because of the food schools offered. She wanted to do something about it, so she left dentistry to become a holistic nutritionist. Now she and BSF are reaching out to schools across the country to try to stem childhood obesity.
“Every school has a bureaucratic system and you have to play by those rules,” says Rubin. “So I decided to form this organization outside of the schools because then there were no rules.”
Better School Food’s mission
Like the name says, it’s about better school food – specifically, BSF wants every school-age child to have access to whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. Its goal is to also get rid of unhealthy ingredients, like trans fats, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and potentially harmful preservatives, from schools and from kids’ daily diets.
BSF is made up of health professionals, educators, and concerned parents. The group supports pretty much anyone across the country who wants better food in schools – from the cafeterias to the food sold for fundraisers.
“We’re just kind of creating an army of advocates,” Rubin explains. “It’s not just K-12. I really believe we’ve got to hit it earlier in child care centers, pre-schools, and after school programs.”
Back in time
To move forward, Rubin says we have to go back to how things used to be. We went from growing our own foods long ago to buying processed foods, and now there’s a push to eat organic, whole foods again.
Rubin believes a way out of the obesity epidemic is for students to go back to eating foods they’ve grown themselves in school gardens. This lets kids learn about fruits and vegetables by doing, instead of just reading about them in textbooks. She says because they would actually see where their food comes from, they’d be more likely to connect with and want to eat fruits and vegetables they have planted and nurtured themselves.
No More Sweets?
Don’t worry – she’s not saying sweets should be banned. But when you have them, why not have the good stuff made with all natural ingredients?
“My kids eat cookies,” says Rubin. “They make chocolate chip cookies from scratch with the best ingredients. So I’m not saying, never do this. I’m saying, bump up the quality and have less.”
Movement turns into movie
Rubin’s passion caught the attention of filmmaker and mom, Amy Kalafa, who featured BSF in the documentary, Two Angry Moms . Rubin and Kalafa became two angry moms when they saw the poor diets their kids were eating in schools and how it affected their health, behavior, and learning.
“It’s a real story about school food and the challenges and the successes that are out there. So we always joke that Two Angry Moms is the movie and Better School Food is the movement.”
How you can get involved
Want to make a difference in your community’s schools? Find out more about what you can do and how BSF can help you along the way.
Making a Healthy Difference
With grim news about the obesity epidemic constantly making headlines, it’s refreshing to know there are people out there working hard to try to reverse the trend. Thanks, Better School Food for Making a Healthy Difference!
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