Schools should be a place where our children can thrive and form healthy habits that will last throughout their lives. Tragically, many school systems ? compelled by dwindling budgets and lack of community support ? are beginning to serve food catered by fast food restaurants, while kids are continuing to eat fatty, non-nutritious foods.
Did You Know?
- Only 2 percent of America?s children meet all the recommendations of the USDA?s Food Guide Pyramid (USDA, Eat Smart, Play Hard).
- Less than 20 percent eat the recommended servings of vegetables and less than 15 percent eat the recommended serving of fruit (USDA, Eat Smart, Play Hard).
- In the U.S. at least one child in five is overweight. Over the last 20 years the number of overweight children has increased by more than 50 percent (USDA, Childhood Obesity: Causes and Prevention).
- According to the CDC, One in three U.S. children born in 2000 will become diabetic unless children start making serious changes to their lifestyles and eating habits.
There Is An Alternative
Fortunately, you can help counteract this dangerous trend by starting Farm to School programs in your area. Through a Farm to School program, concerned parents, teachers, students and administrators can get local, farm-fresh produce served in school cafeterias.
- Cornell University?s Farm to School pilot project helped get a variety of local produce served in several New York school districts, including fresh apples, cabbage, onion, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, pears, and milk.
- Other successful farm to school programs have been started in California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.
- In 2000, the USDA began supporting the farm to school movement with a substantial grant. The 2002 Farm Bill directs school food service officials to buy locally whenever possible.
If you?d like to initiate a farm to school program in your school district, check out some of these great resources to get started:
- The Community Food Security Coalition?s (CFSC) Farm to School Program for tips, tools, technical assistance, and funding opportunities ? also, contact their program director Marion Kalb at (310) 822-5410 or The National Farm to School Program Web site, a growing resource of information about farm to school.
- The USDA?s report, How Local Farmers and School Food Service Buyers Are Building Alliances, with recommend strategies and success stories
- Our Communicator’s toolkit Where Does Your Food Come From? discusses how to effectively develop a local foods campaign and what kinds of messages resonate with public audiences
- Public Citizen’s Stop Food Irradiation School Lunch Organizing Kit which helps interested parents, students, teachers, and community members keep irradiated food out of their schools
- The publication, Healthy Farms, Healthy Kids, available from CFSC
Also be sure to check back here often for the latest Farm to School news, publications and links on the Web!