According to a survey published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2009, roughly 94% of schools served a lunch that failed to meet federal standards for healthy school meals, and 80% of the lunches served in those schools exceeded federal recommendations for total fat and saturated fat.
Armed with these startling facts, a group of New Orleans kids - who dubbed themselves the Rethinkers - set out to make a difference in their community during the post-Katrina rebuilding period. THE GREAT CAFETERIA TAKEOVER shows how they transformed their school lunch menu when it debuts WEDNESDAY, MAY 16 (7:00-7:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
Other HBO playdates: May 19 (2:15 p.m. ET/1:45 p.m. PT), 21 (3:15 p.m.), 24 (9:00 a.m.), 27 (11:00 a.m.) and 30 (2:35 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: May 25 (6:00 a.m.) and 29 (noon)
THE GREAT CAFETERIA TAKEOVER is the first film in the three-part series THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION FOR KIDS, which is a companion to the four-part, multi-platform documentary series THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION, spotlighting the facts and myths about America's obesity epidemic. THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION is a presentation of HBO and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in partnership with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente. All three films in THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION FOR KIDS will air during back-to-school season this fall.
In their campaign to change school lunch menus, the Rethinkers surveyed students at schools in their community and issued annual report cards to attract media coverage and capture the attention of decision-makers. The Rethinkers met with school officials and corporate executives from Aramark, one of the nation's largest food service providers, to get them thinking about the quality of school meals and how they could be improved.
Using the report cards and survey results, the kids negotiated with Aramark to provide healthier food choices. When a general agreement to provide more local, healthy food did not result in change, the kids held the school officials' and the company's feet to the fire and finally arrived at a specific agreement to serve fresh, locally produced food at least two times a week.
Among the young people featured in the film are: