Our top legislative priorities for CNR are: 1. Provide $50 Million Mandatory Funding for Farm to School Programs 2. Improve Access to Child Nutrition Programs and Increase Reimbursement Rates 3. Strengthen Nutrition Standards for School Meal Programs and Competitive Foods
I’m on board with the food activists who say gardening and farming should be a part of our public education. Even if most of us aren’t going to grow our own food, it would do a lot for us to at least know how it’s done. There has been increasing popularity in school garden projects, and farm to school programs, and I think that’s a great thing.
The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) is a great regional resource. Based in Asheville, NC, they are dedicated to ‘expanding local food markets that will preserve our agricultural heritage, give everyone access to fresh, healthy food, and keep our farmers farming’. Among the many things they offer are Farm to Business, Farm to School, and Farm to Hospital resources; Conferences and Educational Programs; Farmer Grants; Family Farm Tours; Research; Publicationa; and many useful Links. A great recource for farmers and others in the area. Also in this region, heck out the Organic Growers School.
On Thursday last week Rolling Acres Farm had the opportunity to participate in an unusual and interesting event. Kathy Henningsen, the Wellness Coordinator for the Atlantic School System and Mary Olnes, Cass County Wellness Director received a small grant from the Iowa Farm to School Council to hold a farmer’s market for the Schuler Elementary students. What an exciting hour it was in the gym! Students were give vouchers to purchase $5.00 worth of produce from ten area vendors. Students entered the gym, received some popcorn and ice cream and then struck out to see what the local producers had to offer.
“Merrigan’s memo urges her fellow USDA administrators to take advantage of available funding for initiatives like new community Farmers Markets, Farm to school lunch programs, cooking classes—so these can happen rapidly. Merrigan opens the memo by writing “I suspect that many USDA programs are under-utilized by those seeking to build local and regional food systems. I would like to play the role of matchmaker during this administration…I will work to help USDA program administrators to understand how our programs may better serve your efforts to build local and regional food systems…”—Obama Foodorama: Cash For The Obama Food & Ag Paradigm Shift: Merrigan’s New Memo Explains Funding Opportunities For First Lady’s Food Initiatives
Work with like-minded parents at your child’s school to initiate healthier options for school lunches purchased at school, such as farm-to-school programs and vendors that provide healthier, more sustainable, and organic product options. Realize you are dealing with both federal and school district policies that require patience and group organizing to change.
“And so what we’ve got to do is to change how we think about, for example, getting local farmers connected to school districts, because that would benefit the farmers, delivering fresh produce, but right now they just don’t have the distribution mechanisms set up.”—La Vida Locavore:: Obama Connects Food to Health
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: A Centerpiece for a Healthy School Environment - Fall 2009, across California This two-day training provides tools to support an increase of fresh fruits and vegetables on school campuses and farm-to-school programs through fun, interactive, and skill-building activities Notes: This training replaces the Fall Shaping Health as Partners in Education (SHAPE) workshop. 2. If you are a Network for a Healthy California contractor, only Day One is 100% Network allowable. Any travel costs associated with attendance on Day Two must be covered by non-Network funds. Registration Required - http://www.lifelab.org/ffv.php
Not only will this Time for Lunch! Project create a wholesome source for locally grown food in Dover Schools all year long, it will also raise awareness of ways we can act together to bring real food back to school cafeterias.
Today’s article added that, “The Department of Agriculture is expected to upgrade school food nutrition standards this year, many of which haven’t been changed for nearly 15 years. And because many Obama U.S.D.A. appointees are focusing on improving student health through better food, the department has started an aggressive effort to study reform efforts big and small. These include the national farm-to-school program, which is in nearly 9,000 schools, and Food Options for Children in Urban Schools, a nonprofit based in New York that helps the nation’s largest districts change how they buy and prepare food.
Western North Carolina is a leader in the school garden trend, and kids heading back to school for the year have a wealth of Farm to School opportunities. Growing Minds, a project of the nonprofit organization Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) , is helping schools offer local food in their cafeterias, school gardens, farm field trips, and other positive experiences with healthy food.
Primary goals of Time for Lunch are to increase the amount allotted for each school lunch by a dollar - from $2.57 to $3.57, to guarantee 50 million dollars in funding for Farm-to-School programs, and to enact high standards for all food sold in schools, including vending machines and fast food outposts.
“The National Farm to School Network is a collaborative project of the Center for Food & Justice (CFJ), a division of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College and the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC). From just a handful in the late 1990’s, Farm to School programs have spread to approximately 400 in 2004, 1,000 in 2007 and over 2,000 in 2009 spanning 40 states.”—Greening Our Schools, Part III « Cera
• Want to take a more proactive approach to ensure that school cafeteria food meets your green standards? Check out the Farm to School Program, which partners schools and local farmers. This program includes farm visits, farmers’ visits to classrooms, and students participating in a wide variety of agricultural experiential education programs.
“President Obama: I remember when I used to get school lunches sometimes they didn’t taste so good, I gotta admit. We are actually seeing if we can work to at least make school lunches healthier, because a lot of school lunches, uh, y’know, there’s a lot of French fries, pizza, tater tots, all kinds of stuff that, uh, isn’t a well balanced meal, and so what we want to do is make sure that there are more fruits and more vegetables in the schools now. Kids may not end up liking that, but it’s actually better for ‘em. It’ll be healthier for them and those are some of the changes we’re trying to make.”—Obama Foodorama: President Obama Announces School Lunch Policy Changes During Interview With 11-Year-Old Reporter Damon Weaver
"The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act—important legislation regarding Farm to School programs that make local food, school gardens, and farm field trips available to children—is coming before Congress. Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), the Southeast Regional Lead Agency for Farm to School, is urging the public to advocate for mandatory funding for a Farm to School grant program.
Michelle Ratcliffe, Director of Farm to School Programs, Ecotrust’s Food and Farms —Learn how changes that are happening in cafeterias and school systems nationwide will impact your business in the near future.
“F2S programs are about far more than getting local foods into school cafeterias; it’s also about in-class nutrition education, farmers visiting schools and students taking field trips, school gardens, taste testing programs, after school cooking and gardening programs, harvest of the month programs, and composting.”—CT Health Notes Blog: Farm to School panel at CSG/ERC meeting
“As a former school food director for a program serving 8000 kids, I have to say, the quality of the food, albeit, not organic, is actually higher than most people know. USDA requires for their commodities program for example, top grade produce across the board for the canned/processed goods. And lots of programs are doing farm to school programs (I was also a farm to school manager for a non-profit, have been a presenter on USDA commodity food programs, and in an industry capacity, visited quite a few plants that processed school foods). That said, I sack my kids a lunch. Not for lack of quality of food, but mainly for lack of time. Our district gives the kids no time to eat - they heard them through like cattle. And at $3 per kid x 3 - I can do a lot better for $45 a week shopping the way I shop.”—Do You Pack Lunches for Your Kids at School or Do They Eat Hot Lunch? - Organic Grocery Deals