Friday, January 28, 2011

Farm to School

My reading assignment for my contemporary food movements class today was on "farm-to-school"(FTS) initiatives. This made me think of when Kath spent time in middle school cafeterias! The article I read focused on two cases in Pennsylvania one in a rural environment and one in an urban environment. The initial goal of FTS was to bring local, healthful food to K-12 students. This would call their attention to their surroundings, help them become more familiar with the culture of their area and strengthen school relationships with local farmers.

However after these initiatives were put into place parents and faculty members of the schools realized that much more could be achieved from FTS, such as addressing issues of nutrition and obesity in children. Several arguments were made in favor of these programs promoting health such as...

  • They will be able to set healthy "food traditions" in place such as cooking real meals as opposed to the fast food and quick fix world we so often live in
  • They can promote proper nutrition because the food the farmers will be most likely to provide will be fruit and vegetables
  • It gives the schools a gateway and a link to incorporating a health curriculum  that would include wellness and nutrition 
Some people are worried that choosing to focus on the health aspects of FTS will take away from the original goal of strengthening ties with local farmers... "we can get fruits and veggies anywhere if that is the concern" type argument.  The other concern is that perhaps there are bigger health issues that need to be addressed in teens like self-esteem and eating disorders (operation beautiful reading group??). 

Have you heard of FTS initiatives or similar programs? What do you think of the focus on health vs. the focus on community? Would you invest if your local school had a program like this? Any other thoughts? 

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