Friday, October 12, 2007

Farm to School Success Story from Oregon

Sheila G. Miller's article in The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon profiles a successful farm to school project at Bend-La Pine School District in Oregon that incorporates organic produce from local farms into lunches. The story is inspiring, and includes some interesting specifics.

In responding to price concerns about organic, Wellness Specialist Katrina Wiest, who iniated the program says:

"It’s not more expensive,” Wiest said. “They meet or beat the wholesale prices, because we’re taking out the middle man. It’s going from the grower direct to the table. Usually it would go from the grower to the shipper, then to a distributor and then to the table.”

Another section of the article talks about the kinds of nutrition standards the district is using:

"And, the district strives to lower the calorie and fat content in meals as well, using brown rice, hot dogs made of turkey and corn dogs with chicken meat. The district even makes a low-fat ranch sauce that students use as veggie dip. All of the meals served in Bend-La Pine Schools are made up of no more than 30 percent fat, 10 percent saturated fat and 1,200 milligrams of sodium."

Since federal school nutrition standards do not specify amounts of fats and sodium, nor whole grains, such decisions on the part of school districts are going beyond the requirements for the sake of children's health. (Note: some similar measures, at least in terms of adding more whole grains and brown rice, are happening in the Seattle School District and others in our area)

The article does not go into details about the necessary funding and personnel change that may have gone into the program, but it does represent a success story in a small school district that's worth checking out.