As part of their ongoing “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam?” exhibit, the National Archives screened the 2010 documentary Lunch Line at their William G. McGowan Theater. The exhibit which runs through January 3rd, 2012, features a mix of documentaries, films, book signings, lectures, discussions and actual archive records that highlight the U.S. Government’s influence on the foods we eat.
Lunch Line breaks down the timeline of our National School Lunch Program by recalling its humble origins, particularly the great congressional work of then Senator George McGovern; its present conditions and current obstacles, highlighted by the travels of six Chicago inner city students sent to Washington DC on a lobbying campaign; and the future of the program, represented by the radical rhetoric of noted chef and school lunch reformer, Anne Cooper, which the media has comically dubbed the â€œRenegade Lunch Ladyâ€.
The doc features extensive interviews with past and present participators of the program, such the aforementioned heavy-hitter McGovern, and with both sides of the current nutrient vs. food debate which plagues its future. What really comes across though is the heartwarming story of the students and their plea for extra funding which sets up one of the most interesting aspects of the film, an analogy between the trials it took to pass the initial school lunch legislation and oddly, the angtsy teen characters of the current Twilight movies and books, complete with animated reenactments of actual congressional hearings with werewolves and vampires in place of senators, congressmen and even presidents.
The movie was followed by a discussion with a panel of experts including co-director Michael Graziano and former U.S. Secretary Dan Glickman. The discussion along with the film fit very well with the National Archives’ exhibit and its agenda, through the course of the evening, one could easily feel a sense of nostalgia at their own school lunch experience and it was interesting to find out why exactly you got stuck with the same helpings of (inset particular item here) day in and day out.
There are plenty of future events lined up in the coming weeks at the National Archives for the â€œWhat’s Cooking Uncle Sam?â€ exhibit. Lunch Line is continuing its screening tour across the country and is also available on DVD.