Documentary on childhood obesity, school food to show at North Battleford library

Skype interview with Los Angeles director to follow

March is Nutrition month. As rates of diet-related chronic disease continue to rise in North America, the topic of nutrition has become a priority.

The North Battleford Public Library is hosting a free film night open to the public on Monday, March 18. Doors open at 6:45 and the film, examining nutrition in schools, starts at 7 p.m. A live Skype interview with the director, James Costa of Hollywood, will follow the film.

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James Costa is director/producer of “Lunch Hour: America’s School Lunch Program.” He is co-vice president of the International Documentary Association and also operates Bird Street Productions, an independent media company. He is the chair of the President’s Council for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. He currently has two documentaries that he helped produce out now called “Weed the People” and “Call Her Ganda.”

Rhea Good, director of the Pilot Project for Universal Lunches in Schools, says she was able to source the film and was excited to find the North Battleford library, and Head Librarian Caroline Popadick, happy to take on the presentation of the film as part of their programming. Being able to Skype the director following the film is a bonus, says Good.

What Costa says about “Lunch Hour,” the film:

“I was visiting a school up in the South Bronx in New York and saw what the kids were getting for lunch. I asked the lunch lady if this was a joke. I will never forget her words. ‘No, actually this is a good day.’ I could only imagine what a bad day was like. That’s when I decided I need to make a film about this issue. I had been interested in the politics of school food, and the connection between food and health for decades but it wasn’t until 2008 where I felt that I needed to do something more. 

“I was born in Boston and grew up in Watertown, Massachusetts. I’m 55 years old, so my elementary school years were in the early 1970’s. My school had a cafeteria where we had to pay but some kids got discounted or free food. We all ate the same thing. We all had to stay at the school to eat unless we snuck out! As a documentary film maker, I felt I had a duty to show how our society has made zero progress in this area; we have actually gone backwards.

“I used to help the lunch ladies when I was a kid. I remember bringing up the milk to our classes for midday snacks and then for the food I remember the very cheesy pizza, tater tots, and a burger that tasted funny. I don’t remember anything healthy but I was kid so what did I know what healthy meant. 

“I don’t have kids but I did this movie because I saw what kids are eating so I look at America’s kids as my kids. I understand that kids are bombarded with commercials and ads to eat junk food so that is what the parents are up against. They are the front line for taking care of their kids’ bodies. It’s a tough job but for me it should be worth the fight. Their kids will thank them when become healthy adults.

“In the U.S., it is these big food companies that are pushing the unhealthy foods. Those companies want us to get discouraged and give up on creating positive change. It’s all about money and keeping the status quo. That motivates me to say ‘Not on my watch!’ and use my voice for change.”

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