“If we would like to create real choice for people, the first thing to do is to empower the social support systems to allow people to eat beyond the industrial commodity food system. Supply food vouchers for farmers markets and CSAs (where soda is not for sale anyway.) Fund farm-to-school programs and farm-to-table programs in hospitals, eldercare homes, Meals-on-Wheels and prisons. These are the programs that this taxpayer would happily fund.”—Mind Body Nutrition Counseling » The “Free Will” of Food
“Apples, strawberries, watermelons and cucumbers were among those listed as the students’ favorites, and Principal Jerry Gregoire said he was thrilled to see them so excited about it. “The kids are so inundated with processed foods that they don’t get exposure to this kind of food all the time,” he said. “It’s a way to make sure they’re eating healthy.”—Hilltop School students give healthy snacks rave reviews - Fosters
The 2008 Farm Bill had lots of great new programs to help producers and food-related community organizations, now it’s up to us to take advantage of these funding opportunities to build our local food system. To help you figure out which of these programs may benefit you or your organization, we’ve created a brief guide. Click here to download Good News For Local Foods in the Farm Bill.
One new study estimates that 24 million Americans now have diabetes, more than four times the number in 1980. The total direct and indirect cost to Americans is $218 billion each year — an average of $1,900 per American household. Each year, diabetes contributes to the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans.
Additionally, if you’re a parent, inquire if the school your children attend is part of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). This group promotes the Buy Fresh, Buy Local Campaign through their Community Food Systems Program which also includes Farm to School Program. The curriculum introduces kids to locally grown food and family farmers. It is never too early to educate our youngsters about our local food system.
“And while most school cafeterias are still stuck in the pizza and hot dog rut, some avant-garde school systems are bringing locally grown foods to school children. Maryland, for instance, has started a new Farm to School program to encourage kids to eat local produce.”—Ukiah Clinic » Ten Reasons to Buy Local Food «
While protesting the Vilsack choice is important, it’s equally vital and timely to launch a national education and policy campaign on core issues, and to keep building the so-called “alternative” food system – farmer’s markets, local food projects, farm-to-school, foodsheds, and others – into an everyday option for everyone.
They provide a variety of training and technical assistance programs for community food projects; support the development of farm to school and farm to college initiatives; advocate for federal policies to support community food security initiatives; and provide networking and educational resources.
The National Farm to School Network is an ongoing grassroots effort to build a local food economy, a bridge between the farmer in the field and the student in the cafeteria. Kids are beginning to learn that broccoli actually tastes good, and administrators are learning that kids will eat healthy foods when they are fresh and taste good. When you factor in possible healthcare costs down the road, from diet-related illnesses, everyone wins: fresh, healthier food for school kids, support for local farmers, and less food waste at school.
“Owner Denise Whiting believes in what Geraci’s trying to do. She thinks that if Alice Waters could turn Berkeley, Calif., on to seasonal, local ingredients by opening the famous Chez Panisse in the 1970s, that 30 years later Baltimore should be ready for its own local eating revolution. “It’s teaching kids a new subject and that subject is food,” she says. “Food does not come in a tortilla chip bag. Food does not come in a box. … Real food comes from the farm.”—Seeds of change — baltimoresun.com
“Matt Hornbeck, principal at Hampstead Hill Academy near Highlandtown, is eager for his students to take field trips to the farm. With more than 80 percent of his students coming from households that fall below the poverty line, he knows if the kids don’t learn how to eat right in school, they might not learn it at all. “If you come to school on 20 ounces of Mountain Dew and a bag of Funyons, you feel and act a lot different than if you have something healthy to eat,” he says. “We view food and nutrition as a readiness issue - like having enough sleep and having space to do your homework.”—Seeds of change — baltimoresun.com
In the schools where “farm-to-school” programs take place, school children visit farms, sometimes working on them as a learning experience, or bringing their acquired knowledge back to school gardens and greenhouses. These schools had classes where students learned to prepare whole meals from fresh ingredients. In one district, a month of school lunch menus were entirely planned and tested by the students. Where school districts purchase fresh ingredients from a variety of sources, I observed that food service directors, administrators, parents and even students all join in taking responsibility for the quality of the meals.
“Letting schoolchildren go hungry means that the nation’s investments in public education are jeopardized by childhood under-nutrition," said J. Larry Brown of the Harvard School of Public Health, who was the lead researcher on the breakfast report, which was funded by the Sodexo Foundation, the charitable arm of the food service company.”—California in danger of running out of money for school meals - Los Angeles Times
“This plan is a common-sense way to meet two very important goals: supporting our local farmers and making sure our community’s children get healthy meals at school," said Brown, a member of the House Agriculture Committee who co-sponsored the legislation. "By increasing sales of locally grown produce and other foods produced on Thumb farms we will help our farmers increase their profits and protect and create jobs.”—Brown: New Law Will Increase Fresh, Local Foods in Schools | News | Representative Terry Brown
The school believes social behavior should be taught in a caring and supportive environment and does everything in its power to create that. And, true to the Island, the Oak Bluffs community supports the learning of locally grown, and the OBS student body is very involved in the Island’s Farm to School program.
Schumer said Newsday’s recent series on school food sparked his concern over the financial challenges of serving students healthier food. “One of our great problems is kids aren’t eating healthy,” Schumer said. “We have great products on Long Island that are healthy and fresh.”
“Seventh-grader Gavin Theiring says he didn’t realize he was eating locally grown vegetables in the chicken dish at school but that he might have been quicker to choose it if he’d known, adding that his parents purchase local produce. “That’s cool,” Gavin says. “I would support local farmers.”—MailTribune.com: Test Kitchen
Curry said that he would like to see more farm to school programs where local farmers supply fresh foods for children. “It supports local farmers … and you’re doing two things: providing a better diet for these kids and supporting the local farmer,” he said.
Ideally, LAUSD and other large urban districts can move more towards a farm to school approach that has already been adopted by thousands of schools across the nation. Farm to school involves procurement of locally grown food plus nutrition education in the form of farm visits and/or gardening. It’s been shown to boost consumption of fruits and vegetables and improve awareness of nutrition.
Farm-to-school connections are sparking interest around the state, as producers, advocates, educators and food service professionals see the potential for farm-to-school programs to expand local markets for farms and provide access to more fresh foods for children and youth in schools. This past year the Legislature passed the Local Farms-Healthy Kids Act, creating a Farm-to-School Program in the Washington State Department of Agriculture to support farm-to-school links and providing money to 25 schools around the state to buy Washington-grown fruits and vegetables. Those and other schools are now actively seeking produce from Washington farms to serve in their snack programs.
This is one of the reasons that the gains of a year-round Farmers’ Market and Farm to School programs are so important. The less distance our food and citizens have to travel, the better for us, for the planet, and for the local economy. If the global financial crisis doesn’t get any worse things might just be fine.