The House heard testimony from Top Chef Tom Colicchio last week in support of the "Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act." This bill has support from both sides of the aisle and is backed by President and Michelle Obama. Everyone wants our children to eat better food.

But Colicchio's words point up something Washingtonians are well aware of: The language of congressional bills is obscure and masks unpleasant realities. House Resolution 5504 reads: "... the Secretary shall promulgate proposed regulations to update the meal patterns and nutrition standards for the school lunch program authorized under this Act ... based on recommendations made by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences."

Wouldn't you rather hear that "schools will be instructed to provide fresh food for lunch, without chemicals or additives"? Where's George Orwell ("Politics and the English Language") when we need him?

Colicchio's language is, by contrast: "I hear people say, 'We'd like to improve school lunch, but all the kids want to eat are pizzas and burgers. If we give them good food they won't eat it.' Come on, people! We're the adults. It's up to us to do better. My kids would also happily live in front of the Xbox and never take another shower as long as they live. Not gonna happen. When I give them healthy, delicious food they eat it, with gusto."

The school food revolution, as I have noted in previous columns, has been long in coming. Alice Waters first championed schools as badly in need of a food makeover. "Renegade lunch lady" Ann Cooper followed suit, and Jamie Oliver used his considerable charisma and bank account to introduce reforms in England and in Huntington, W.Va. Colicchio and Rachael Ray are recent celebrity chefs who have jumped on the bandwagon -- but foodies of all stripes (including home cooks like me) love the idea that our children might encounter salads and fresh food midday instead of the previously frozen, chemical-laden "golden" food of our own cafeteria days.

As a teacher of English literature, House resolutions are not tops on my reading list, but I read this one. There is much to praise: food extended to America's poorest children, who may eat their only full meal at school. Many children will have food during summer programs, and even on holidays. Schools will have financial incentives to comply with new federal guidelines.

But the Orwellian part is that each public school lunch will only be funded an additional 6 cents to cover training of food service workers and increased costs of fresh food. 6 cents? This 252-page bill is no "food revolution."

Yet that's the reality of Washington. Jamie and Tom and Rachael and even Michelle have campaigned passionately for the cause and, if we're lucky, a bill will pass that increases each lunch expenditure by 6 cents. Even with our children's health, we compromise. But this is an improvement over the status quo, and that's how bills are passed. We don't need to end our desire for better food in schools, but simply ready ourselves for the next stage in this very slow "food revolution."

Erica Jacobs, whose column appears Wednesday, teaches at George Mason University. E-mail her at ">