Years ago I worked as a special educator. I remember being pregnant walking up and down the aisles of the cafeteria at lunch wondering about the food choices my daughter would be given. Some eight years later I home school my daughter and am thrilled to offer her healthy lunches. But of course, as a mother, I can’t turn my back on the children eating inferior lunches. While parents are at work, they shouldn’t have to worry about the content of their child’s school lunches. I went on line to do a little research. Surely with the likes of Jamie Oliver and Rachel Ray working on school lunches there had to be groups doing something. What I found and who I met brought a lot of hope to what I see happening with school lunches.
There are several groups working on ridding our schools of junk food while other groups work on helping schools bring healthy alternatives to the plate including salad bars with loads of fresh, healthy and delicious choices. One group I found, Farm to School, is working to connect schools to their local farms. Instead of trucking in produce from a farm thousands of miles away, schools benefit from locally grown produce. This not only offers a sustainable solution, but one that boosts local economies.
I was so excited, I had to see if any schools around my area were involved. Maybe I’m a bit pessimistic, but I was in awe of what I found. We had a local school making use of the program. Not only that, I talked with a man who I believe is going to make big change for children everywhere. David Schwake from the Litchfield School District could only talk to me for a little while since he was headed to Italy for an International School Lunch Conference. Besides making local strides for change, this guy was going to help schools in other countries do the same. I can’t put into words the amount of excitement David exuded over the phone. Not only do they use local produce when ever possible, that day they were able to send home fresh produce to the families in the district as well.
The Farm to School website offers an interactive map allowing visitors to click on their state and find local programs when available. The site also offers publications, links and resources to help every one dig in and help change the way our children eat. The Farm to School News & Media section is my personal favorite because it highlights all the change being made in a marvelously positive light.
Programs like Farm to School are ultimately going to be the change makers. There are no big businesses calling the shots or sponsors promoting unsavory products. There are simply a group of people working for a better world for our children and our farmers. This program affords a win-win solution and in this crazy world, shouldn’t we indulge ourselves in happy stories every once in a while?
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