Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why Wait Until College?

Why Wait Until College?

As I was reading the Barlett piece, Campus Sustainable Food Projects I came across a great idea!  Why target universities with “sustainable food project”, why don’t we start with elementary schools or high schools?  Now, I know of two simple responses: Money and Time… But what if money and time weren’t factors in this problem?  The 4 components discussed in the article could easily be converted to aid elementary and high schools:
Four common components of campus sustainable food projects:
1. dining-service innovations in procurement, menus,
and kitchen operations;
2. academic and co-curricular programs, including
courses, concentrations, and internships;
3. direct-marketing opportunities, including farmers
markets and community supported agriculture
4. hands-on experiences

I have drafted a plan (which is an obvious “revision” of the above plan found in the article)
 Target: Washington, DC Public School Cafeterias & Food Suppliers
Elementary School Sustainable Food Project:
            Dinning Services
Discontinue meal transportation system.  By stopping the meals that are “trucked” in on a bi- weekly bias we are automatically opening up a healthier window option: Have ingredients shipped and prepared the day of services.
            Kitchen Operations
This statement might sound ironic, but, the majority of DC Public Elementary Schools don’t actually have kitchens!  They have a large room within the cafeteria with a giant microwave to heat the food.  
What if every building came equipped with an actually kitchen? And with an actual kitchen you would need actual chefs.  In order to implement the following plan the school will need to hire chefs, just not staff who are trained in using a microwave.
            Academic Program/ Activities
This step is the easiest… Simple incorporate lesson plans about where the food being supplied is coming from.
            CSA/ farmers markets
On the student level, take children to Farmer’s markets for a field trip, and enforce the importance of supporting locally grown food.  Compare a contrast the differences between fresh and package vegetables.
The above plan is only an idea.  I do not want to discredit the “New Food, New Visions” program that DC has implemented in several school sites.  But until every public school in DC is receiving locally grown vegetables and fruits we still have a problem.

If nutritional standards are set at a very young education level they well progress with the individuals.  Hopefully, the elementary students who are receiving fresh vegetables will be the college campus leaders who will go the extra mile to support campus wide sustainability projects. 

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