The largest school districts in the nation have banded together to demand better options for millions of school children including, natural, drug-free and vegetarian fed chicken in order to provide healthier school lunches.
School districts for major cities across the United States including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Orlando, and Dallas have joined together to form the The Urban School Food Alliance and they are using that massive collective buying power to change the quality of food made available to schools to provide healthier school lunches. Their first step is to ban all chicken from their schools that does not conform to their new safe and natural standards, which means they will only buy chicken from sources that offer drug and antibiotic-free chickens that have been raised on a purely vegetarian diet with no animal by-products in the feed. Additionally, producers must also insure that the chickens are raised, and eventually killed, in a humane fashion.
This will keep the heavy antibiotic-filled meats out of the school lunches of over 3 million children across the country, and is the first step in a desperately needed overhaul of the school food programs to insure healthier and more nutritious options for America’s school children, and could have a big impact on protecting the health of those children.
When farmers fill chickens and other animals full of antibiotics, often times without any cause or need to do so, those drugs build up in their systems and are then passed on to humans who consume the meat. This can lead to what is known as antibiotic resistance in humans. This means that when someone becomes ill, antibiotics will no longer work against the bacteria that is making them sick. The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes antibiotic resistance to not only the overuse of antibiotics in humans but to the massive amounts that people also receive from the meat that they consume. As a result, around 2 million people become ill in the United States every year due to antibiotic-resistant infections which claim the lives of thousands of people annually.
Childhood obesity has seen a sharp rise over the past few years, with 18-21 percent of American children now being affected, and around a third of all children in the U.S. are overweight. In addition to this, the poor diets of most American children can also lead to a number of other health problems including diabetes, hypertension, poor sleep quality and fatigue which in turn leads to poor concentration and lower performance in academics.
Nutritionists and activists across the nation have been working hard to get healthier and more natural foods into the school lunch program, and children’s diets and to move away from dietitians’ traditional, nutritionally insufficient, choices. Since the food available in school can account for a large portion of the diet for many school children, especially in urban areas, providing high quality, nutritiously rich food is essential to the health and wellbeing of America’s school children and their future and making this switch to natural, antibiotic-free chicken is just one step towards that mission for healthier school lunches.