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.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Secret Service Head to be Questioned Over White House Intruder

Julia Pierson will be questioned about the latest break-in well as several other embarrassing incidents involving the agency More

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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid