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Expert: School Lunches Failing Kids

School lunches interfere with healthy lifestyles, and are adding to the obesity problem plaguing our children.

That's the charge leveled by many experts, and chef and author Ann Cooper agrees, asserting that too many cafeterias don't offer healthy choices.

She helped turn around the public school lunch programs in Berkley, Calif., and East Hampton, N.Y. Her latest book, "Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children," focuses on the national school lunch program, offering advice — and recipes — to help parents take control of their children's diets.

Cooper had a co-author for this book, Lisa Holmes.

With the hope of inspiring parents to become aware of and involved in the lunches served at their own children's schools, there are examples throughout the book of progressive, healthy eating programs implemented at schools across the country.

On The Early Show Thursday, Cooper discussed "Lunch Lessons," and her concerns, with co-anchor Hannah Storm.

Cooper said her main lesson for parents would be "that we have to cook for our kids, that we have to teach them about better food, that we have to give them better food because, if we don't do that, as parents and caregivers, then the likes of fast food companies and soda companies are the ones telling our kids what to eat, and it's making them sick."

Among the healthy items she says kids will love for breakfast and snacks:
banana bread, yogurt-honey healthy muffins, peanut butter and jelly power muffins, sweet potato biscuits, fruit smoothies, fruit leathers/dried fruits, fruit kebabs, and chocolate-peanut butter bananas. For lunch: corn soup, pasta with greens and feta, spinach and black bean burrito, vegetarian chili, and turkey meatloaf.

To read an excerpt of "Lunch Lessons,", click here.

For more on "Laptop Lunches" containers mentioned by Cooper in the segment, click here.

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