SOURCE: Faerie Films

April 29, 2008 11:00 ET

Faerie Films Calls for a 'Manhattan Project' to Improve School Food

Activist Film Company Seeks a Complete Overhaul of How Kids Are Fed at School

LAGUNA BEACH, CA--(Marketwire - April 29, 2008) - Faerie Films, the company behind the teen documentary "All Jacked Up," claims that the existing public school food system is so badly broken that the only solution may be to start all over again -- this time with a healthy, nutritious and tasty lunch ending up on the plate.

Each day, the USDA-administered National School Lunch Program (NSLP) feeds over 29 million children, whether it's full-price, low cost, or free. With over 50 million students enrolled in public schools, that means over half of America's children count on the NSLP to provide up to three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, snack). The USDA reports that the NSLP costs $7.6 billion annually.

And the net result? According to Jennifer Mattox, founder of Faerie Films, and director of "All Jacked Up," "Our kids are on a life-threatening path, and because of the system that's in place to feed our kids at school, the kids ultimately suffer." The independent film company is calling on federal and state governments, the food industry, charitable foundations, and the public school systems to come together and make drastic changes.

"Last week PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) put out a challenge to food scientists and researchers to develop artificial chicken that 'tastes just like chicken' by putting $1 million on the table. This empty offer does nothing to solve the big picture problems we have with food. It's going to take a 'Manhattan-style' project, with a financial incentive for everyone involved, to begin to tackle the mess that is our national school lunch program," said Douglas Clemons, the producer of "All Jacked Up."

According to a recent USDA report, these issues "can only be answered by an integrated study of school meal program operations, costs and outcomes. The USDA has previously fielded studies of both outcomes and costs, but has never collected these data as part of a unified design and sampling plan, allowing the information to be combined to fully answer these questions of compelling policy interest. An integrated study would allow an unprecedented level of analysis of the relationship of key operating characteristics, costs, and outcomes -- with outcomes including both quality of meals offered and students' participation and consumption."

In a statement, the USDA's Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Nancy Johner commented, "the USDA is committed to continuing to support schools with guidance, training and technical assistance to ensure their operations are effective and efficient in providing good nutrition to our children."

"The food system is so screwed up... would I want to eat it, would I want my kid to eat it? No way!" exclaimed Stacey J. Bell, D.Sc., nutrition doctor and former Harvard nutritionist.

Recent student-initiated protests and boycotts over the quality of NSLP-administered lunches have re-awakened the dialogue about food served at the nation's public schools. Middle and high-school boycotts in Oklahoma, New Jersey and Wisconsin have all caught the attention of their school administrators, hoping to quell the situation. "As our film documents, it's up to the individual to take a stand and demand change, and that's what we're encouraging," Mattox concluded.

"There are progressive school systems that have taken the lead and made healthy school meals a priority, and have been financially responsible in doing so," Clemons continued. Faerie Films intends to rally support for initiatives and pilot programs that provide organic foods to public schools at the national level.

About Faerie Films

Faerie Films, LLC is an independent film company located in Laguna Beach, California. Inspired by the current conditions of today's health and social challenges, Faerie Films is developing projects that touch, move and inspire moviegoers to take action to reform thought patterns and human behavior.

For more information, contact Douglas Clemons at 949.494.7240 or visit www.faeriefilms.com or www.alljackedupmovie.com.

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