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Fueling our kids and the future: school lunch

Guest Column


In the past three decades, much has changed in our food system and society. Schools aren’t purchasing as many fresh foods, yet they have more nutrition requirements to fill. Schools got away from purchasing locally. The number of local farms to purchase edible food from has become scarce.

Recently, my kids invited me to eat lunch at school. Their school lunch menus show what items are locally sourced. Granted, I get to be a farm-to-school geek for a living, but to me that also meant an average parent would know that locally grown, fresh food was prepared in their school’s kitchen.

Each month, seasonal foods are taste-tested in the classroom. Recipes and shopping tips also come home. Considering cuts to food science and agricultural classes in many schools — or not learning these basic skills at home — some parents simply do not know how to prepare fresh produce. The Farm to School Project gives us a chance to change this.

When I ate school lunch, I saw a tray of nutritionally dense food. It made me feel good that the school is feeding the kids to perform well.

As a kid growing up in rural America, I could not imagine a world that agriculture and food prep skills weren’t a part of. But today I see how quickly we are losing these skills. Farm to School is a tool for us to use to provide self-sufficiency and a better health legacy to our future keepers of the food system.

Sandra Renner is a Farm to School Project specialist with the Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

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