According to a new survey by the Minnesota School Nutrition Association (MSNA) and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), the number of Minnesota school districts purchasing food directly from local farms has more than doubled in the last 15 months.
The survey of Minnesota districts, which includes more than 550,000 K-12 kids, found that 69 districts reported purchasing Minnesota-grown products in 2009, more than double the figure from late 2008. And 77 percent of the districts now involved with farm to school initiatives expect to expand their activities in the upcoming school year, the survey found.
While this is all good news, we still have to question what it is we’re feeding our kids. How healthy is it? How good?
A couple weeks ago, Lee Zukor, founder of local-foods-focused website Simple Good and Tasty, went to his kid’s school to eat lunch, and subsequently wrote an open letter of apology to kids for the food they are served every day.
Many of you have noticed that the food you’re being served in your school cafeterias leaves much to be desired. You’ve told us that there are bugs in your food, and that nobody cares when you tell them. You’ve told us that the staff doesn’t give you time to eat. You’ve told us that school cafeteria food makes you feel sick at times, and that it doesn’t cure your hunger. You’ve told us that the food tastes like the plastic it’s been wrapped in, and that it’s just plain “rude,” bordering on inedible. It pains me to tell you this, but we know. We’ve known for a long time.
Your peers asked me if our nation loves our children. The answer is yes, we love you very much. But things have gotten away from us, again. The situation is complicated, there’s a lot of work to do, and we don’t have much money to do it. To affect change, we will need all of the great work being done by people like Michelle Obama, Chef Ann Cooper, by the person who writes Fed Up with School Lunch, and by organizations like The Lunchbox and the Healthy Schools Campaign. We will need to tell our government that you kids are our future, that you need to be fed good, nourishing, healthy, fresh food, and that our tax money should support it. And then we need to tell them again.