Schools and Food: a missed opportunity

Ever since I was very little, I wondered why we had frozen “California vegetables” for school lunch when we had so much land to grow our own on this side of the country. Now that I’m in high school, I’ve stopped eating school lunch. But I still cringe when I happen to glance at the month’s menu (shrimpy poppers, anyone?). Current nutritional guidelines require that a student buy a fruit item with their meal, which usually gets tossed out in the massive bins. It begs the question– Why not help the students meet nutritional guidelines while helping the local economy and making a huge reduction in the school’s carbon footprint? Buy or grow organic fruits and vegetables and actually prepare the meals instead of taking boxes out of the freezer and popping the contents in industrial-size ovens. It’s actually pretty simple. We do a lot of talking about helping local businesses and the search for the ever-elusive “jobs”, but we do so very little to attain it. It can start with schools buying large quantities of sustainable produce, which is good for the land and the people who work it, in addition to the students who benefit from the wholesome nutrition it provides. I know for a fact that a number of local farms in our area would be thrilled to have the business of a school district as large as ours. So why the hesitation? That’s the difficult part. Budget is one issue that needs to be overcome, for a start. It would cost the school more money to buy fresh produce straight from the farm that it is to purchase low-nutrition, highly-processed and ready-to-thaw meals. But with enough pressure from students, parents and teachers, change can be made. Are you ready to make your voice heard? Go to your local school board meeting and submit a proposal. After all, good eating habits start young. Don’t let students wait any longer.



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