Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Radical School Lunch


Chef Ann Cooper

In the Valley, there is no shortage of fresh veggies and fruit. So why aren't kids getting it in school? 

On October 2, FARM TO FORK radio show took a look at
'mystery meat,' 'pink slime,' and other health risks leveled at public school students.

The show interviews food service directors, teachers, program directors, activists and others who weigh in on their use of local food and other radical measures to change the system. We spoke with presenters at this summers' DIGGING IN, a Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Burlington, VT where people very, very much devoted to what kids are eating could cavort on the lawns of Shelburne Farm where sheep grazed in the background before going back to getting down to the business of saving the world.

Chef Ann Cooper, (who spoke this summer at the Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Burlington VT) rages against the school food machine, Lethal school food containing high fat, high starch, high fructose drinks, GMOs and hormones combined with extra short lunch periods are the enemy.  Cooper battles these forces with salad bars and a call for reform from within the system as from inside the system as Food Services Director, Boulder Valley School School System and Founder of the Food Family Family Farming Foundation. Results of her efforts can be seen in the  Let's Move! Salad Bars to Schools program supported by Michelle Obama.  Also, Jennifer LaBarre of the Oakland Unified School District is heard from. She heads Harvest of the Month efforts that includes 22 produce markets that feed the students and the community.

Locals weigh in on the topic of food in public schools and we hear from Farm to Institution Coordinator Emily French of Farm to School in Amherst, Anne Hewitt Cody, Kindergarten Initiative Coordinator, Holyoke MA, Mauricio Abascal, Director, Eat Well Food Camp and the NorthStar Nutrition Program, Hadley MA and Adam Roberts, Youth Commission Director in South Hadley.

In the Valley, where there is no shortage of local fruit and vegetables, public schools are challenged by budget and transportation but change is coming slowly. And salad bars, field trips and cooking classes don't hurt so there is hope.

Please listen and comment. Does school lunch have to change, how can it change, if we can eat locally, why can't students? Do we need more money, better transport, an open mind? And if you want your kids or your school to get access to local food, contact Farm to School immediately. Emily will make it happen.