The Military dishes up School Lunch

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Basic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 – Republished article.

Undernutrition and malnutrition are very different animals, except when it comes to the convergence of soldiers and school lunch.

The school lunch program was started during the Great Depression in 1935.  It was a fantastic solution to two national problems.

  1. Farmers had surplus produce that many people could not afford leading to a drop in price.
  2. Children were going hungry because of the 25% unemployment rate – 75% in minority communities.

The Secretary of Agriculture was given funding to purchase surplus foods for a school lunch program via the Congress.[i] School children across the nation began to have at least school lunch as a daily meal.  During World War II, the surplus food supply dwindled as the nation had to feed a military stationed around the globe.  By the end of the war the congress was thinking of ending the program.  However, the military spoke up.

The Surgeon General of the Armed Forces testified in 1946 that, “70 percent of the boys who had poor nutrition 10-12 years ago were rejected by the draft.”  That meant boys between the ages of 8-14 during 1934-36 with limited food sources became a “threat to national security” due to the fact that the US could have had difficulty assembling a military force due to the stunted growth from undernutrition.  This testimony was the linchpin to continuing funding.[ii] 

 Skip ahead to 2010.  Thirty percent of teens are overweight or obese.  This comes from “malnutrition”.  They have food to eat, but the food is extremely high in fat and sodium and lacking fiber and many vitamins and minerals.  Until now, the military has been pretty silent about school lunch, school breakfast or any other federal nutrition program, even though many of their employees have wages and salaries low enough to qualify for a number of public welfare programs.

However, on April 20, 2010 retired Navy Rear Adm. James Barnett Jr. with a group of officers called, Mission: Readiness, spoke to Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.  Adm. Barnett said that, “When over a quarter of young adults are too fat to fight, we need to take notice.”  Again, the military speaks up because lousy nutrition leads to lack of national security.

School lunch never hits the front page and yet it affects every child in public school, approximately 45-50  million Americans.[iii]  Music and art programs are being slashed and the military had approximately 23% of the 2009 US Federal spending.  One budget of theirs isn’t even allowed to be public.  There are weapons systems, which have been denounced by top military brass, being built at the cost of millions.  But we hear little to nothing about school lunch and school breakfast programs which have not had an increase in reimbursement since 1973.  So,  now they want to help out the poor little lunch ladies. 

The military also wants to help out the phys ed department because so much money is being spent to train new recruits when seasoned soldiers are too heavy and are discharged.  Military recruiters want to work with schools to help recruits lose weight before they try and sign on the dotted line. One recruiter was quoted as saying, “This is the future of our Army we are looking at when we talk about these 17- to 24-year-olds. The sad thing is a lot of them want to join but can’t.”.[iv] It’s great the military is motivated to preventative measures.  

 Well, that’s one way to look at it.  Another way is that the military industrial complex may not have the fodder it needs to continue its various “security” operations around the world.  If we don’t have an abundant supply of healthy young people we may not be able to continue as the world’s police department.   What would we have done if we didn’t have recruits to go to Afganistan and search for vaporous weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

 The former president of the American Medical Association, Ron Davis, MD, stated he had spent all of his time in office, 2007-2008, trying to get one word changed in defining Medicare and Medicaid.  He lobbied that the word, preventative, be added to the type of care covered by these two programs.  On a phone conversation he said that if preventative medicine were available to people who qualified for these programs costs would decrease because the high expense of treating diabetes, progressive cancers and health problems related to obesity could be addressed early on.  It still has not happened. 

 But with Haliburton on board all things are possible.

[i] Food Research and Action Center. 2008. Commodity Foods and the Nutrition Quality of the National School Lunch Program: Historical Role, Current, operations, and Future Potential.  Executive Summary. FRAC. Retrieved from :http://www.frac.org/pdf/commodities08_execsummary.pdf on May 12, 2010.

[ii] Boyle M. 2003. Historical Background of Food Assistance Programs. Community Nutrition in Action: An Entrepreneurial Approach, pg. 124-125.  Wadsworth, Belmont California.

[iii] Institute of Education Sciences. [nd] Fast Facts. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=65 on May 18, 2010.

[iv] Jalonick MC, [2010] Are school lunches a national security threat?, Military Discusstion. com, April 20. Retrieved from http://www.military-discussion.com/forum/index.php?topic=2545.0 on May 18, 2010

. . . and now about the rest of us

Folks at my local farmers market

Folks at my local farmers market


Hello Darlings,

LaDiva here.

Okay, do you live next to one of those “Every ingredient in the World” grocery stores?  Or the “Everything organic and overpriced” joints?  Well, I don’t.  In fact, a lot of people don’t.  I live an hour from anything remotely resembling this.  How about the “Whole Paycheck” market?  Or perhaps the local, “No one that buys here wears anything by organic cotton” store?  Not me.

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Encore! Eggplant Cutlets with a local marinara

When you view, and I hope cook along with, one of my video recipes you will notice that I have boring basic ingredients you can find at most grocery stores in the US.  There are a couple of spices or items that are a little exotic, but 1] I point them out and 2] they are rare.  

I cannot stand the game many folks who want to be earth-friendly play that I call, “How Vegan are You?”  

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Lean Bean Sandwich Machine

Have you ever been in a conversation with intelligent, nice people, and then someone says, “I had those new black bean burgers at a barbecue last week.”  Then someone else says, “That company is owned by ConAgra.”  Then some other brilliant conversationalist chimes in with, “Well, actually the original owners sold out to ConAgra to start an animal sanctuary in Tahiti when feral snakes are being rounded up for boots made by exploited child workers in Asia.”  And finally, this gal pipes up with a piece of info she has been trying to inject into a chatter of healthy, holistic, horse manure for a month, “Yes, but the owners are cutting down palm trees to make way for the animal sanctuary and displacing the local farmers creating an economic crisis for most of the surrounding island population.  Didn’t you get the email and sign the petition?”

Now the guy that mentioned the new burgers decided to try something other than the planet-killing, artery clogging death slabs or so called by his veggie-fascist sister-in-law who will only graze on his lawn for “real foods” at family get-togethers.  So, do you think he is ever going to mention or try anything remotely like that again?

Look kids, you may eat chia seeds for your health, but the carbon footprint on them is enormous if you live on the eastern seaboard.  Same goes for agave nectar.  Where I live maple syrup is made a couple of miles away.  That’s what I buy.  Okay, that is not all I buy, but it is the major sweetener in my foods.  The people who process the sap have never sang Kumbaya and do not dye their own t-shirts.  I shop at the local grocery store which has an organic section and some other organic products.  My priority is to tell them that my dollars will support local farmers and local produce.  Please bring me more so I can purchase more here in town.

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Insta Party Bean Dip on Pepper with Olives

Most of the folks who live around me do not make 6-figure incomes.  And they are the ones using much of our healthcare dollars because they do not understand what foods are readily available, healthy, cheap and easy to make.  And they don’t have a personal chef to do it for them.  Until recently, insurance coverage did not include nutrition counseling.  Now it does, at least a few times a year with a registered dietitian.  These low 5-figure folks were my target audience when I started making my videos and teaching cooking classes.  There are lots of customers at the “Wholier than thou” shopping extravaganzas, but I am looking for volume to change our national health needs.  That’s who will tip the balance of power in the food processing and marketing sector.

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Our local flower girl

So, I lift my cheap, non-snazzy can of seltzer to all the ShopRite, Aldi, Piggly Wiggly, Hy-Vee, Food Lion, Food Chopper, Kroger, Albertson, Fred Meyer, Meijer, Tom Thumb, Sav-a-Lot folks who just need to know bean burgers are a great first step.  Feel free to contact me when you’re ready for the next one.  I’ll be grazing on the free organic stuff in your lawn.

Click here to subscribe to LaDiva Dietitian’s monthly video recipes.

The Quill is Mightier than the Keyboard

Grab you quill and get enrolled.

Grab you quill and get enrolled.

Darlings,

You may have been feeling adrift, but every time I sat to write a blog it appeared to be another development in the land of I-Got-Mine-Now-Get-Yourself-Elected-to-Get-Yours.

Our program with the Navigator had very few people.  Bummer.  However, the ones that were there had FAB questions.  Our navigator, whom I give the Nom de Plume, Navigator, was FAB.  He explained how the system was supposed to work, what he had been told and problems he had seen,  what we should do between now and December AND he explained what he didn’t know.

What he knew – The system had 3 times the amount of folks trying to enroll which assisted the online crash.

He explained that when you go on to the site it is as if you are standing in line.  Unfortunately, you can’t see the line ahead of you is composed of a few million people.  Might as well bring a sleeping bag and lunch. . . and cocktails.

He had been working to get people on the system from his end and had a lot of trouble.  He had seen folks make an account and then have the account disappear.  He was a very patient, nice guy.  One audience member had been on the phone with Navigator many times and neither one snarled.  In fact, listening to the audience member made the process clearer.

Audience member had an interesting problem.  He could retire and get Medicare, but because of his income fluctuation, it may make more sense to get a plan on the Exchange and cover family members.  He had been to the Kaiser Family Foundation calculator to get a guess-tamate on his costs.  But, because he hadn’t seen exactly what the actual insurance plans and deductibles, he couldn’t make a real decision.

There are different categories of plans – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.   Bronze has the cheapest premium with the lowest coverage and highest deductible.  These shift to increased premiums and lower deductibles as you move up the metal ladder.  Previously it was thought government subsidies would only be used on Silver plans.  We found out that they could be used on Bronze and Gold also.  Not sure about Platinum.

Another audience member went to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield website, got a FAB brochure in the mail.  Her cost would be $900/month.  Ouch!  However, she and Navigator got onto Healthcare.gov, and saw the same plan [BC/BS] for around $400/month.  She was stunned that different insurance brokers would charge you a different price for the same plan.  Welcome to our FAV broker gambling game – How Much Can I Get You to Pay?  [cue audience applause]

What we should do between now and DecemberUse a paper

As confining as being glued to your computer all day enrolling

As confining as being glued to your computer all day enrolling

application.  Yes, tie up your corset and don your bonnet, we’re off to the 19th century information age to be sure that you will get into the 21st century system.  The Let’s-Get-Every-Programmer-in-the-US-to-add-their-2 Cents-With-No-Company-Responsible-to-Ensure-the-System-Works wonks in Washington waxed poetic that the online program would ease enrollment.  But, if you had trimmed your feather pen and filled out a paper application on October 1, you would have already been part of the paperwork.  Those of us sitting at our FAV electronic online implement in our jammies trying to open an account at 4am every morning for weeks were out of luck.

What Navigator doesn’t know – What happens after your application arrives.  You post your application to London . . . Kentucky.  Then, someone is supposed to get back to you.  However, Navigator had no idea who that would be.  No one in the agency where he works for has been knighted for that task.  His best advice, call the numbers on the application in a few weeks and start figuring it out.  My advice: Make a copy of the application.  Send it return receipt.  Get a piece of paper that states it was received.

I have been thinking a lot about whether Kathleen Sebelius, head of the Department of Health and Human Services should be ousted.  I’m thinking no.  In all confrontations there is the pro side, con side and the third side.  The third side is where you pull out the emotions and look at the whole picture.

Had the Republicans let the Affordable Care Act go on its merry little way or even let it drop after the Supreme Court stated it being constitutional, there may have been enough time to actually put the website together.  But, the on/off-let’s-destroy-this-thing continuing attacks, including the shutdown, left programmers wondering what they should do.  The biggest problem in my eyes – no one company was in charge of seeing the entire project through and testing all systems.

Most new internet programs are done by a small group.  They add someone as needed to keep the project streamlined.  This thing had many companies working on it with no one at the helm.  So, we are left with an amorphous group of Bart Simpsons saying, I didn’t do it. [Luv Bart]

Which leads to Marilyn Tavenner, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  She was the head honcho who rolled out this debacle.  She Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 2.40.56 PMstarted life as a nurse.  I LUV nurses.  Then, Marilyn goes into administration and earns a Masters in Health Administration.  Great, she knows how to make sure there are enough gauze pads and medical personnel to apply them.  She’s a successful administrator – in hospitals.  Nowhere do I see she understands IT, instituted an electronic medical record system or is the go-to gal if your monitor dies.  She gets 162K in retirement pay in addition to what you and I add for her boat payment.

UPDATE – Media reports have had tech gurus talking about how they basically launch websites for the consumer.  They dole it out in batches.  The first thing is to enable folks to see your product, get them interested.  This is called window shopping. Have the consumer see how it fits with them.  Then, you get to the specifics.  An example is online loan applications.

You put in what you are looking for, some basic numbers about you and the house then you get some quotes.  When you have zeroed in on the loan that looks the best, you put in specifics and make sure of the deal.

Marilyn decided 10 days before the launch to yank out the window shopping and make you go straight for plunking in all the specific numbers and having it all checked with the IRS.   This cross-checking caused most of the bottle-neck and crashing.  Who told her to do this?  As far as I can see it was her decision alone.  Thanks, Marilyn.

Why didn’t we use the services of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).  Below is their mission statement

ONC is the principal federal entity charged with coordination of nationwide efforts to implement and use the most advanced health information technology and the electronic exchange of health information.

Ever heard of them?  Not me.  This is headed by Dr. Jacob Reider.  He is a medical doctor who has worked with a number of IT firms.  Think Jacob may know some IT people familiar with the challenges of creating a national online health program?  Maybe even combine work to reduce redundancy?  Could Dr. J coordinate all the info of the Health Exchanges with a national medical database?

Sorry for the horse.

Sorry for the horse.

I think I’ll call Marilyn to schedule a carriage ride around the National Mall replete tea, crumpets, tar, feathers and uninsured citizens tired of being told to check back later.

Specific about Pacific

Only organic soy USDA gives poor mothers is possible GMO - Pacific

Only organic soy USDA gives poor mothers is possible GMO – Pacific

Conspiracy theorists are so annoying.  I am usually the one gently telling them to look up facts, and cut down the rhetoric.  But this ticks me off and I see discrepancies all over the place, so I am annoying. A new experience for me.

In creating an animated DVD about fruit for young kids,  I wanted to check on fruit listed on the Women, Infant and Children allowed food list.  WIC is a US government program for poor families with kids between 0-6.  I had to spend a little time at a WIC office.  These people NEED this help.  It keeps kids brains and bodies growing and out of hospital emergency rooms.

On my DVD I wanted to be sure to include fruits that every kid would be able to eat, so I made of list of all the WIC fruits and other foods. You may notice red tags on shelves in the grocery store around the OJ and milk area.  This red tag says this food is a part of the WIC program.   The red tag product can be obtained by the WIC recipient.  These are purchased directly with your tax dollars and feed a hungry kid nutritious food like fresh fruits and veggies.

Well, not all the foods are nutritious.  Until 2006 soy products were not available even if your kid was lactose intolerant or due to religious reasons you could not drink or eat dairy.  So, I was thrilled when I heard that tofu and soy milk were to be on the WIC list, especially ORGANIC products.  Since I work with kids 0-3 with eating issues sometimes silken tofu is an answer to propping up protein while transitioning to whole foods from thickened smoothies and infant formula.

Here’s the rub, Pacific Foods supplies the only organic soy milk allowed on

They don't believe you should know their product sources

They don’t believe you should know their product sources

the list.  Their Ultra soy does have a good dose of protein, calcium and B12 for growing bodies.  However, their organic status is in real jeopardy.  They state their beverage is made from “whole organic soy beans.”  On the other hand, they refuse third-party verification and do not have the import records to prove it.

The Cornucopia Institute repeatedly asked Pacific to clearly state where their soybeans came from since Pacific’s advertising claimed the beans were organic and came from the United States.   Cornucopia checked import records for Pacific and found shipments from China.  Cornucopia has their own seal of approval and asked Pacific to provide documentation so that the institute could bestow said seal.  Pacific replied that they had their own “Certified to the Source”.  I have no idea what that means and Pacific’s website has no further information on who the third party is or any other verification.  Cornucopia found that Pacific accepted a soy bean shipment that was refused by other companies.

Here’s my dilemma – I want to thank Pacific for helping out poor kids.  They will make a ton of $$ selling to the government at a cheaper price due to the volume of milk sold.  But is their claim true?  I want more info from Pacific about exactly where they source their ingredients with third party disclosures.

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

Demonizing any company really bothers me because there are many people working at the company who see what good the company does.  It is like a scientist who discovers something that gets turned into a crappy or devastating product.

Please contact Pacific and ask them to be clear or we just can’t support them and their products.  They need to fess up because this lack of information is annoying.

PS, I’ll be putting a minute or so of the DVD animation on my YouTube to view before purchasing from my 100% organic website.  I hereby disclose where I get all my ideas – at 3 am and during running.

 

Wish for it, anyway

White board ready for ideas

White board ready for ideas

The business plan is in the works and feels like I’m playing Monopoly.  Community Chest says, “You won the lottery.  You can now spend $10 grand on every LaDiva Video Recipe shoot and have an assistant.  Your wardrobe will be enhanced and here’s Iris Internet to re-do your website.”  A business plan is a calculated wish list.

My mission statement is to Party the Planet to the Next Level of Compassion.  My narrow view of what a cash infusion could do is not worthy of pixels on a screen.  I need to remind myself, if you want a global presence, open your head and allow energies you haven’t ever met to carry the project further than you imagine.  I need to have a global vision as well as presence.

Anne Hathaway refers to her Golden Globe award as a “lovely blunt object that I will forevermore use as a weapon against self-doubt.”  I have a piece of paper on my wall stating my projected income by January 2013.  I think I need something 3-D.  This prompts the question: Where does self-doubt come from?

When you do something right, it is a completed task.  When you screw it up,

Unlock your attachments

Unlock your attachments

it’s experience.  The accumulation of “experiences” overriding completed tasks leads to self-doubt.  I have done so many stupid things, stayed with toxic people, denied reality, turned away from opportunity because of the perception of hard work, impossible goals and fear of succeeding that I feel my life is nothing but experience.  Fear of succeeding?  Really?  Yes.  I have caught myself talking myself out of success.  I think it will change what I like about my life too much.  But, if I open up my vision and allow possibilities beyond my narrow scope who knows what could be.  It’s like refusing to open the window in the late summer because sometimes the breeze gets icy cold.  Well, if you can open the window and let in the fresh air, you can control the window and shut out the cold.  What if you work twelve hours a day to make your dream happen and you actually like working on it?  What if you got to the next goal?  What if you could retire and support causes that have always been in your heart?  Surround yourself with like-minded successful people?

Too often I think, well if I do THAT, I won’t get to do THIS.  And “this” is such an easy thing to attain.  For example, an actor friend said to me that they didn’t want to take an opportunity to be a real estate agent, althoug they are great at sales, because they wouldn’t able to do “extra” work in film.  Extras are the folks you see in the background of movies and TV shows.  This person is an extra “to get my insurance” through the actors union.  But it is not what they really want to do.  They really want good roles in film and theater.  What if they became a successful real estate agent, could pay for their own insurance and could produce a film starring them?  What if they were so successful they met people who produce films?  Don’t those people need places to live?

Sh-h-h. Listen to other voices.

Sh-h-h. Listen to other voices.

But “experience” says we will work a million hours and make $40K and NEVER do any of the things we want.  We take our past and make it our future.  Well, as much as I would like to be as hot and sexy as I was when I was 25, it will not be my future.  And am I really as naive as I was at 18?  Do I care as much of what people think of me as when I was 30?  Is my body ever going to be a scarless as I was at 12?  Not bloody likely.  And that is okay.

I have experience, but I also have history.  My history says when you put on blinders you reach the next level.  My history says that I know how to succeed in many things and I just have to apply it to my current goals.  My history says I rarely get it right the first time, so I can try over and over.

My history says the bills will get paid somehow, anyway.  I will get old, anyway.  I will learn something, anyway.  I will have self-doubt, anyway, but my history says it is worth doing, anyway.

War, Death, Peace, Life

Earl Worthington’s, Marty’s Grandfather, WW1 helmet with shrapnel dent

So much about Veteran’s Day speaks of war, death and remembrance.  While there is value in rememberance and honor those who have given military service to their countries, we should also remember where the day came from and its greater peaceful meaning.

Originally called Armistice Day, this day was to mark the end of World War 1 – The War to End all Wars.  It was a call to end of hostilities, war and death and a return to living peaceful lives.  The word armistice means, truce.  This leads me to two thoughts.

1. American military veterans give their service to secure peace in the world.  So many gave their lives to what they thought was for the better good of the country, citizens and the world.  I honor that.  I also honor those who gave of themselves in peaceful protest, objection and witness to create the same end.

Tom Davey, WW2 Marine, Marty’s father

My BFF, Marty Davey has a niece who is a major in the Army.  The Major is not only a caring mother and phenomenal friend, but an officer who sees her duty and her tours of Iraq and Afghanistan as bettering the world.  On a vastly smaller scale, Marty, another caring mother and phenomenal friend, went to war-torn countries supporting artists and musicians promoting peace and ending state-sponsored violence against citizens.  As opposed to what many make think, these two women have great respect for each other and their common goal of lifting up the world to a higher sense of being.

Marty puts it this way, “You may get more bees with honey, but if they are going to sting you everyone grabs the nearest rolled newspaper.”

2. The right to vote. Of those who gave their careers, their lives, their bodies and their indomitable soul to create the path for self-determination.

Marty teaches juniors in college most of whom are in their early 20’s.  Last Election day she asked everyone in her class to stand up.  “Sit down if you voted.”  A number of students sat down.  “Sit down if you cannot vote because you are not an American citizen, old enough to vote or some other reason such as you have been convicted of a felony.”  A few students sat down. “Those of you sitting write your name on a piece of paper.”

Marty’s relative Annie Kenney, Suffragette, England 1907

She, then told them that when her grandmother was their age, she was not allowed to vote.   [Here’s a link to one of Marty’s suffragette relatives, Annie Kenney] American women were force-fed, beaten and hung by their wrists in jails because they demanded the right to vote.

“Someone died today to make sure you had the right to vote.”

I think a soldier’s  or activist’s death or injury was more inconvenient than your needing to sleep instead of voting, your need to text or facebook instead of voting, or your just being too disconnected, politically lazy or unconcerned instead of voting.

“Everyone who gave me their name gets a point on the next test.”

It doesn’t matter who you vote for as long as you are part of the process.  It doesn’t matter how you work for peace, but that you take action on the need.  What is important is that you find that peaceful and ethical stream of consciousness in yourself.  I believe this stream is universal.  I think we need to watch small children more and re-view their unfiltered, true responses to unethical  actions. We need to see how our culture or personal history thwarts our true embracement of an ethical, peaceful life.

Marble birds from Marty’s delegation to Nicaragua, 1986

We all need to make an armistice to release war and death and make real the peace and peaceful world for which so many strived.