Celebrate National Farm to School Month!
Help Dr. Willard spread the word about the importance of nutrition in your local school!
October is designated as National Farm to School Month, which urges families to raise their voice in support of their children’s nutritional needs. Most parents are aware that many schools around the country do not provide school meals that are healthy. Common options include pizza, hot dogs, nachos, etc.; even if fruits and vegetables are served, they are typically from a can, and contain little nutritional value. Now is one of the most important times in history to be very cognizant about what your children are eating, as the obesity epidemic in the United States is growing.
This issue has even received attention from the White House, when first lady Michelle Obama made it her mission to improve the quality of school lunches. In 2010, Obama spearheaded the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which, according to the site, created legislation that “authorizes funding and sets policy for USDA’s core child nutrition programs: the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program.” However, each school can decide whether to participate in this program; if the school chooses to, they must serve lunches that meet federal standards, in exchange for which they will get subsidies from the government.
Even with the first lady’s help in promoting nutrition in the school cafeteria, there is still much that needs to be done to help our children make better choices when it comes to what they eat. A great solution to this has been a partnership with local farms, which deliver fresh produce to schools for breakfast and lunch. According to the National Farm to School Network, over 40,000 schools nationwide have joined this initiative.
Benefits of Farm to School Collaboration
- Nutritional Value – There can be no debate that serving food from a farm is a much healthier option for kids than frozen food that is loaded with salt, trans fats and preservatives.
- Local Benefits – With the Farm to School Program, schools are able to receive fresh produce that has just been harvested, which contains much more nutrients and vitamins than food that has traveled for thousands of miles, has been frozen, defrosted, etc.
- Educational Benefits – The initiative encourages schools to plant gardens with the participation of the students, provide cooking lessons and offer field trips to the farm. This requires students to learn about healthy options for eating, and then discuss what they learned at home to promote overall dietary changes in the household.
- Community Benefits – The National Farm to School Network explains that the program “can serve as a significant financial opportunity for farmers, fishers, ranchers, food processors and food manufacturers by opening the doors to an institutional market worth billions of dollars.”
How to Help the Farm to School Movement
If you want to help the Farm to School initiative, there are several steps you can take, according to the National Farm to School Network, such as:
- Social Media – Log on to your Facebook or Twitter account to speak up about your desire to implement this program in your local school, or, if your school is already involved in this collaboration, share your story with hash tags #farmtoschool and #F2SMonth.
- Support the Farm to School Act of 2015 – Provide your support for the Farm to School Act of 2015, which calls on legislature to continue to fund the Farm to School Act, in addition to rolling it out to more school and increasing the budget. Individuals can sign a letter of support for the Act here, as well as call their local legislature to demand support for the Act.
- Join the National Farm to School Network – To receive the latest news about the program and stay in the know about events and initiatives, sign up to be a member here.
Help to slow down and reverse the obesity epidemic in America by celebrating National Farm to School Month this October. Is your school enrolled in this collaboration? Let us know how you like it on our Facebook or Twitter pages.