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A Debate Over School Lunches

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I’ve had a busy morning. I got to be on the panel A Conversation With... at the American Museum of Natural History as part of the New Taste of the Upper West Side. The topic: Food challenges in the home and the public-school system. The moderator: NY1’s excellent anchor Elizabeth Kaledin (who is also an UWS mom). The panel: Food Network’s Ellie Krieger,  UWS chefs Bill Telepan and John Fraser, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo, nutritional expert Joel Fuhrman and Eric Goldstein, who manages food services for over a million New York City public school kids.

There were some heated battles (Are bagels poisonous even if they’re whole wheat?? Is there a role for healthy processed foods in school lunch rooms?? Is there any escape from pork in NYC restaurants these days?? Do kids ever text that they’re psyched to go eat some organic cauliflower??). But the real star of the show showed up late, during the audience-question period. Her name was Samantha Richards. She’s a 20-year-old student at C-Cap culinary-arts program, and she talked about how she's been cooking for her family since she was little (her Mom managed to work and also be her prep cook). And she liked Chicago's school lunches better than those in NYC because they offered whole wheat pizzas. And how she’d changed her eating habits after her four little cousins started following her around. Next year, I hope they put her on the panel. She has a lot to say.

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