The new documentary film, Lunch Line, offers a fresh perspective on a 60-year-old government initiative that feeds more than 31 million children every day: the National School Lunch Program. Lunch Line is the first documentary to capture the full history of the school lunch program and reframes the school lunch debate through an examination of the program’s surprising past, uncertain present and possible future.
Directed by Michael Graziano and Ernie Park of Uji Films, Lunch Line also follows the personal stories of six high school students from Chicago who enter the “Cooking Up Change” contest to create a school meal that exceeds United States Department of Agriculture standards and use only $1 per meal for ingredients – the average amount spent on food per child for the National School Lunch Program. The students end up serving their winning meal to congressional leaders and touring the White House with executive mansion chefs. The tale of the students from Tilden Career Community Academy High School is interspersed with archival footage and interviews with current leaders from both ends of the lunch line, including government officials, school foodservice experts and community leaders.
Throughout 2011 and beyond, the film will be undertaking a nationwide screening tour that includes stops at schools, libraries, universities, community centers, museums, film festivals and cinemas in dozens of communities across the country. Lunch Line will also be screened as part of a special exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, DC in early September 2011, and was one of six films selected to participate in the Whole Foods Market “Do Something Reel” traveling film festival (each of the films will screen as a special series at independent cinemas in 80 cities throughout April-May 2011).
There’s no better time to talk about school lunch. Childhood obesity rates are climbing. And everyone – from the First Lady Michelle Obama to school lunch ladies – is talking about how and what American children eat. Lunch Line highlights the challenges and opportunities for improving school lunch, provides a unique platform for discussion around those issues and identifies some key ingredients for change.
To learn more about Lunch Line, host your own screening, find out when the filmed will be screened in your area and purchase copies of the film, along with other materials such as screening kits and UNITE FOR LUNCH American Apparel T-shirts designed by the artist who did illustrations in the film, visit the Lunch Line website. You can also share your thoughts and find out more information about community screenings on the Lunch Line Facebook page.
Image courtesy Uji Films