China Millman's article about Pittsburgh schools' successful efforts to help kids make healthy food choices ("Teaching Young Students to Enjoy Nutritious School Meals," March 8) was inspiring. We can build on this progress by encouraging Congress to pass a strong Child Nutrition Act this year.
Teachers and cafeteria workers work hard to create a healthy food environment at school, but the odds are against them. Schools in Pittsburgh and across the country receive $2.68 per lunch, only about $1 of which goes toward food. Most schools lack real kitchens. Staff lack training to cook fresh meals and buy ingredients from local farms. And often the cafeteria food has to compete with junk food sold in school vending machines.
There is a growing interest in regional agricultural initiatives to produce foods for the school system. By supporting regional agriculture, we are investing in healthier food, and by strengthening nutrition standards we can begin linking schools to local farms. Pittsburgh parents who want to tell legislators this is a priority can do so on Slow Food USA's website, www.slowfoodusa.org/timeforlunch.
The writers are leaders of Slow Food's Pittsburgh and MidAtlantic chapters