Remember a few months back when I blogged about the public protest in Piedmont Park… you know, the slow-food sit-in Potluck Picnic organized in part by local foodie phenom, Lady Rogue and SlowFood Atlanta?.
(flickr photo by findfado)
Well, if you recall, the whole point of that (not so) little public display was to raise awareness of the absolutely dismal quality of some public school lunches. With estimates that 1 in 3 children in some areas will be diagnosed with diabetes, and an epidemic of childhood obesity, healthier school lunches could be a big factor in turning those numbers around.
Getting healthier lunches to kids, however, is not as easy as it sounds. Unfortunately, the federal government often subsidizes meat and dairy and high-fat foods like french fries. The lowly vegetable usually doesn’t receive the same treatment. In addition, a lot of schools don’t have the room or the money for a real kitchen, and wind up outsourcing their lunch program to vendors who supply highly processed reheatable foods, a practice which is, in some cases, prompting boycotts.
One way to change this is to get the kids themselves interested in what they eat. To make this possible,Georgia Organics founded a Farm-to-School program partnering with our local schools to help them find the tools and resources needed to take charge of their own nutrition.
From their website:
A typical Farm to School Program may include:
* An edible school garden, planted by maintained by students, teachers, parents, school staff and community members.
* An Integrated curriculum focusing on nutrition, science, biology, math and local community history.
* Farm field trips and farm education that explores local economics, biological systems, local environmental issues and the holistic connection that links food, health, the environment, and local economics.
* Hands on food preparation and taste testings featuring fresh, local foods
Thanks to these efforts, some needed changes were made by the Atlanta Public School system, including the founding of their own nutrition department. Based on these new guidelines, and with the help of several local organizations, the community, and a nice grant, Burgess Peterson Academy (my neighborhood’s elementary school) started their own organic garden.
It’s small, but it’s a start, and has so far been receiving an incredible amount of community support.
I’m really excited about the potential of this program, and others like it, even though I don’t have children. Just look at what some other schools have been able to do with similar programs. (video)