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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs