from our friends at Slow Food Seacoast:
It’s back-to-school time – a great time to make a real difference in the quality of school nutrition. Slow Food Seacoast invites volunteers of all ages to Time for Lunch!, a day of action to improve school nutrition.
This interactive workshop and service project will bring together volunteers and skilled local farmers to help produce fresh, healthy greens for Dover Schools’ Dining Services program. The event runs from 8:30 – 11:30 AM on Monday, September 7, 2009 (Labor Day). A $10 donation is suggested, and funds raised will be used to support the ongoing operation of the greenhouse program.
The day begins with morning coffee provided by Adelle’s Coffeehouse in Dover, accompanied by healthy and delicious End-of-Summer Muffins prepared by the UNH EcoGastronomy Program.
Then, Shawn and Sarah Stimson of Sustainable Farm Products, along with Heather Fabbri, Agriculture Instructor for Dover High School and Career Technical Center, and Amy Winans, UNH Lecturer in the Department of Hospitality Management and Slow Food Seacoast member, will lead the volunteers in building a raised bed and planting seeds using a manually operated four-row seeder.
Shawn and Sarah will provide an educational talk and demonstration about growing greens seasonally including tips on heat, light, moisture, and composting. Heather Fabbri will provide greenhouse walk-and-talk tours to small groups during the event.
The event is part of a nationwide campaign by Slow Food USA to improve school nutrition for children around the country. Not only will this Time for Lunch! Project create a wholesome source for locally grown food in Dover Schools all year long, it will also raise awareness of ways we can act together to bring real food back to school cafeterias.
GROWING A HEALTHIER FUTURE
In the last few decades, as school budgets have been cut, our country’s schools have struggled to serve children the real food they need. Schools receive reimbursements for each meal served, but they are woefully low. Schools often need to depend on low-cost or free supplies of highly processed surplus products from the industrial food system, which offer little in the way of freshness, taste, or real nourishment. These conditions make it impossible for even the most resourceful, well-intentioned school food directors to consistently serve food that is healthy, delicious and locally sourced.
The need for real school food has never been greater. Today, one in four children is overweight or obese, and one in three will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime. For many children, school lunch is their only guaranteed meal of the day. Right now, those children are forced to choose between going hungry and being unhealthy. The National School Lunch Program provides a meal to more than 30 million children every school day. By giving schools the resources to serve real food, we can grant 30 million children the freedom to be healthy. By teaching children to eat well, we can make a down payment on health care reform.
DOVER SCHOOLS ARE LEADING CHANGE
The Dining Facility Council, Dover Public School District’s federally mandated wellness committee, has partnered with Dover Schools to take a leadership role on better school nutrition. Working with the school’s facilities and staff, they’ve introduced fresh fruit as a snack in all cafes and overhauled the vending machines to remove unhealthful snacks from school grounds and replaced them natural and organic snacks (with choices reviewed by a school nurse to be sure they provide a good source of nutrition). They’ve removed all deep-frying machines from district schools. And students from the UNH Nutritional Science Field Experience course developed muffin mixes made from scratch, analyzed recipes for nutritional content, and held tastings of fresh greens and new menu options like vegetable quesadillas. This year, a Nutrition Nuggets column will debut in the schools’ parent newsletter to keep families updated on what’s happening in the cafeterias.
“Children are vital; they are the future,” says Amy Winans, UNH Lecturer, event coordinator, and Dining Facility Council member. “If we do not take proper care while they are young, it is as if we are ignoring an already massive problem that will only further escalate. Healthy kids are a priority and we owe nutrient-dense, local if feasible, food to upcoming generations. Let’s pay more attention, feed them well and teach school children to eat sustainably. This is a great opportunity for anyone who cares about the future to become educated about school food policy, and to get involved in your district or elsewhere.”
TIME FOR LUNCH! IS NATIONWIDE
Slow Food Seacoast’s Time for Lunch! Event is just one of more than 200 such events taking place on Labor Day nationwide, coordinated by Slow Food USA. The group aims to help America’s children get the solid foundation of good nutrition that makes everything else possible – learning, physical activity, and wellness. In addition, changes to the school lunch program could allow schools to work more closely with local farmers and food producers, reduce fossil fuel and energy use, and bring communities together for stronger connections and better health.
“The way we feed our kids is a reflection of our values. We cannot, in good conscience, continue to make our kids sick by feeding them cheap byproducts of an industrial food system,” says Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA. “It is time to give kids real food: food that tastes good, is good for them, is good for the people who grow and prepare it, and is good for the planet.”
Slow Food Seacoast: www.slowfoodseacoast.org
Sustainable Farm Products: http://sustainablefarmproducts.com/
Dover Public School District: http://www.dover.k12.nh.us
NH Farm to School Program http://www.nhfarmtoschool.org/
Slow Food USA: www.slowfoodusa.org
Time for Lunch! Campaign
USDA’s National School Lunch Program