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

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs