Dana Woldow, crusader for healthy school lunches, dies at 65

 Dana Woldow, who drew national attention when she began a fight to rid California schools of junk food, has died. She was 65.

Woldow died Monday in her San Francisco home. She had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

A mother of three and school volunteer, Woldow was horrified when she saw how easily available soda, potato chips, ice cream and other junk foods were in San Francisco public schools.

In 2002, she became a crusader for healthy school lunches and with a group of parents, teachers and students formed the school district’s Student Nutrition and Physical Activity committee, which tackled issues of childhood obesity and physical fitness.

“She countered every lie by the fast-food industry, everything that schools did to stigmatize kids needing a free lunch, and put the focus squarely on getting the best nutrition possible for kids, and getting it paid for,” Margaret Brodkin, a longtime friend and former director of the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Their Families told the San Francisco Chronicle.

A graduate of Brown University, Ms. Woldow worked as a cook and a portrait photographer before moving to San Francisco in 1977. She acknowledged that her work was possible because she had the time and resources to do it, pro bono.

“I have many advantages, so I don’t need to fear losing my job for speaking out,” she once told the newspaper. “I can barge onto a high school campus, for example, and just wander around looking for junk food vending. I don’t need to fear reprisals from anyone because, really, what could they do?”

Ms. Woldow is survived by her husband of 37 years; and three sons, Max of San Francisco, Samuel of Mountain View and Jacob of Seattle, all graduates of San Francisco public schools.

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