Seems Congress is now trying to help the US Department of Agriculture make what has been billed as a voluntary system, mandatory, and in the process shut small farmers and ranchers out of the farm-to-school program.
Castle Rock is not the only district that is attempting to source locally raised, healthier food for their students, as the growth of the National Farm to School Network can attest. So why aren’t all school districts making the switch to the more popular healthy items? Unfortunately, a number of barriers still exist.
“Debra Eschmeyer of the National Farm to School Network who also raises organic fruits, vegetables, and chickens on her farm in Ohio, put it well when she states. “I respect Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and David Obey (D-WI) for championing food safety, but this provision to require the School Lunch Program to purchase meat products from NAIS registered premises is not about food safety. The downer cow that instigated the Hallmark/Westland beef recall was tagged and identified, but that did not make our school lunches safer. Farm to School programs are focused on children knowing where their food comes from and actually putting a face to the farmer—the ultimate traceability—by actually visiting the farm, not by putting a tag on each of my chickens.”—davidgumpert.squarespace.com - Journal - Why the Raw Milk Movement Is a Different Sort of Movement; Using Children to Push NAIS
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has created a Farm-to-School program to get more locally-grown fresh fruit and vegetables into the diets of school teachers, students, and employees. The Farm-to-School program will bring farmers and schools together in a common goal to attack the problem of childhood obesity and provide better nutrition through consumption of fresh produce.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced yesterday that they are launching a program called “Farm-to-School” in order to put locally grown fruits and veggies into public school cafeterias. While the press release cites the program’s impetus to be attacking childhood obesity, many have advocated eating local as a way to cut down on humanity’s “carbon footprint.” However, studies have begun to question the environmental benefits of the localvore movement.
“What we do know is that kids who work in gardens, whether in school food service or in a tasting party in their classrooms, they eat more fruits and vegetables and try more fruits and vegetables,” she said. “We want schools to have as many gardens as they can.”—School Garden Weekly: School Garden News - Oregon
Schools, farmers, public health advocates and policy makers are beginning to recognize the value of local procurement programs to bring the freshest, healthiest fruit and vegetables to our children at school. As we all know, getting children to eat more fruits and vegetables is an important challenge in combating the obesity epidemic — and what better way than to provide them with the freshest and most tasty produce available?
“Scary salmonella should not stop you from enjoying a tasty tomato this summer or during the school season. Programs such as Farm to School that link local farmers to schools provide the necessary accountability and food safety awareness that allows children k-12 to enjoy cherry tomatoes without fear.”—UEPI News and Commentary: A Tomato You Can Trust
He also mentioned supporting local and regional food systems, community-supported farms, a national farm-to-school program, Country of Origin labeling laws, and tough fines for large factory farms that violate environmental standards. So far, so good.
The FoodCorps, staffed with 5 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, works with Montana farmers, ranchers, students, parents, teachers, and activists to change how children are fed at school. They develop farm-to-school programs in Montana schools and colleges. They organize farm tours, and plan and publicize events to promote locally grown foods. They are working to create long-term change, so projects are meant to be self-sustaining. Over this last school year, Grow Montana estimates that over $1 million dollars was returned to the Montana agricultural economy due to FoodCorps projects. The project is continuing, and Grow Montana is hiring five new VISTA staff for the 2008-2009 year. If you are looking for some inspiration, or a great way to spend a year, take a look at this project!
First, Diane Conners visits Suttons Bay, where school officials, inspired by a nearby school’s very successful farm-to-school program, are studying up on doing their own local thing. Diane says that, when it comes to putting more local, fresh food on students’ plates, the key ingredient is inspiration. Click here if you’re hungry for more: http://mlui.org/farms/fullarticle.asp?fileid=17243
As president, I would implement USDA policies that promote local and regional food systems, including assisting states to develop programs aimed at community supported farms. I also support a national farm-to-school program and am pleased that the Farm Bill provides more than $1 billion to expand healthy snacks in our schools.
The Department of Agriculture has set up a farm-to-school program which supplies grants for schools, and a pilot program designed to allow farmers at markets to accept electronic payment cards and food stamps. There will also be a farmers-to-food-banks program that will assist low-income families with purchasing fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat purchases from local farmers.
Join Georgia Organics and the Children’s Wellness Network this weekend as we raise money for Farm-to-School programs in Georgia. Come play, learn, connect, and gather free materials on farm-to-school programs!
“As president, I would implement USDA policies that promote local and regional food systems, including assisting states to develop programs aimed at community supported farms. I also support a national farm-to-school program and am pleased that the Farm Bill provides more than $1 billion to expand healthy snacks in our schools.”—Lucid Nutrition: Talking Food with Barack Obama
“Everyone loves the new program, because it’s action-oriented. You could prove that with numbers – the hundreds of kids who participated in outdoor classes like Math in the Garden and Read for Seeds this spring, or the hundreds of parent and teacher hours that fueled the speedy execution of the first in-school vegetable garden in West Tisbury. But numbers never tell the whole story. What I really heard in my interviews was a resurgent pride in the Vineyard’s agricultural heritage. Islanders are proud of their home, they want to support each other, and they like knowing where their food comes from. They see Island Grown Schools as a great way to reconnect to each other and to the land. And that’s a good thing, since numbers aren’t going to save the planet; people are.”—Farm to Fork