I came across a great article last week in the Wall Street Journal (that's right you read correctly) which talked about how some school districts here in the States are now establishing relationships with local farmers to get some of their produce for the kids to eat. The school year has just begun and some school districts have signed up for what's called the "farm-to-school" movement. I love this idea and I have to say it's about time. You don't have to be living in the countryside to avail of fresh fruit and veggies. A lot of cities nowadays have farmers' markets which if you know anything about my beliefs, I'm a big fan.
According to the article, 50 million kids eat school lunches every day. Due to cost, most of the produce is shipped in from across the country. This may prove more economical but due to the increasing awareness of child obesity and food safety, some schools are now finally looking into this farm-to-school idea. Although this alternative may prove more expensive initially, the heads that be realise that the locally grown produce is not only fresher and better tasting but more children are eating it. A school in upstate New York has banned fries, the American delicacy tater tots and started getting actual potatoes in for the kids. Another school has started getting their lettuce from a local farmer. I love this idea. If you're from a farming community or just go to the markets you know how much these folks need to be supported. Even here in LA, which incidentally is the second largest school district in the country after NYC, they've even started buying from local farms.
This 'movement' is definitely taking off. Two non-profit organisations have started a programme to link schools with farmers in their particular area and estimate that 2,000 links have been made thus far. There's no doubt that this is the way forward. People are now realising how important it is to feed and nourish our kids properly.
Aside from the health aspect there's an educational one as well. It's important to teach these kids where their food comes from. Some kids would not associate fries with an actual potato that comes out of the ground. Food doesn't come out of a box and some of these schools are really getting on board with teaching the kids the importance of knowing where our food comes from as well as the environmental aspect of farming. All in all things are gradually improving. As in every business, cost is an issue and this is no exception but at the end of the day can you put a value on our kids health?