News / Health

    School Lunches Join Farm-to-Table Trend

    School Lunches Join Farm-to-Table Trendi
    X
    October 14, 2013 7:08 PM
    Young minds need healthy food to grow and family farmers need steady customers to thrive. A move to connect the two is proving good for both. VOA’s Steve Baragona takes a look at the growing worldwide farm-to-school movement.
    School Lunches Join Farm-to-Table Trend
    Over the din of a lunch line of second-graders, Jeffrey Proulx shows off the smorgasbord of locally raised products being served at Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School in Hagerstown, Maryland.

    The bright red cherry tomatoes came from a farm not far from the school, which is located about 90 minutes from Washington. Pork, roasted in the school's kitchen, came from just over the border in Pennsylvania. Then there are the locally grown Asian pears, which are a big hit.

    “Very sweet. The kids are really taking to the Asian pears,” Proulx said.

    Proulx runs the cafeterias for the Washington County school district. The state of Maryland encourages all of its school districts to buy local. It’s part of a nationwide movement to improve the food served in school cafeterias while supporting family farmers.

    Public schools feed more than 30 million kids each day. Roughly 20 million are low-income children who rely on federally-subsidized meals to prevent hunger so they can focus on learning.

    Back to the kitchen

    However, most schools don’t cook fresh meals. Box-to-oven foods, “fully processed, prepared items that are more heat-and-serve,” have become the norm, Proulx says.

    Critics blame processed school meals for contributing to the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic.

    New government rules aim to make cafeteria food healthier by mandating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as lower levels of salt and fat.

    “The way to reach those new levels is to prepare it ourselves,” Proulx said.  

    That meant overcoming a barrier common in public schools today since many no longer have the equipment or the trained staff to prepare meals.

    “We’re definitely taking a stretch back to our roots, which is, actually cooking food,” Proulx said.

    Support your local farmer

    While young minds need healthy food to grow, farmers need steady customers to thrive. Schools make attractive customers because they buy regularly and in large volume.

    Just 20 kilometers from Monroe Primary School, J.D. Reinhart sells 5 to 10 percent of his apple and peach harvest to the Washington County school district. He says it makes good business sense.

    “Your transportation cost is low,” Rinehart said. “And you don’t have to go use a broker or a seller that will take a commission off of you. So, it’s been nice in the fact that I can set my price and I know that’s what I’m going to get from the dock.”

    And, he says, the apple money goes into the local economy.

    “That enables us to update our facilities, to buy equipment locally,” Rinehart said. “Keeping the money right here in the region is huge, not only for us but for the people that benefit from [our purchases].”

    “The Farm to School program has had great success thanks to Jeff Proulx, and continues to grow,” according to Leslie Hart, agriculture business development specialist with the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

    “In 2008, Washington County students were eating apples from Washington State,” on the other side of the country, Hart said. “In 2009, Washington County students were eating apples from Washington County, and that continues to this day.”

    Brazil in the lead

    With farm-to-school programs keeping money in the local economy while providing fresh food for local schoolkids, it’s easy to see why they have spread from six states in 1997 to all 50 today.

    But the United States is not the world leader in the movement.

    “The worldwide success story is Brazil,” said World Food Program school feeding expert Carmen Burbano.

    Burbano notes that as president, Brazil’s Luis Inacio Lula da Silva won international recognition for his “Zero Hunger” anti-poverty plan.

    “One of the cornerstones of that plan was the school feeding program,” she said. “But in 2009, they realized that this program, which was costing the government quite a bit of money, could also help to connect that program with family farmers.”

    The program requires that 30 percent of school meal funds go to family farmers.  

    It feeds more than 45 million children and spent about $500 million on family farmers in 2010.  

    The World Food Program and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization are now working with the Brazilian government on a $2 million project to set up similar programs in several African countries.

    By connecting African farmers to local schools, they aim to help both kids and farmers grow strong.

    Steve Baragona

    Steve Baragona is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering science, environment and health.

    He spent eight years in molecular biology and infectious disease research before deciding that writing about science was more fun than doing it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in journalism in 2002.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: But NO mention!!! from: USA
    October 16, 2013 5:24 PM
    Ironic how there is NO mention of the FLUORIDE in the tap water, MERCURY in ALL the vaccines, and GMO in ALL the foods the Regime wants to push on us for EUGENICS. ALL CLINICALLY PROVEN by leading universities to cause cancer, and a host of other cognitive disorders, any mention of that in this article??????????????????????? OF COURSE NOT.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora