Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Vote with Your Lunch Money

Deborah Kane, Vice President at Food and Farms at EcoTrust, and a mom (among other credentials), published an article called BACK TO SCHOOL: VOTING WITH YOUR LUNCH MONEY on the Edible Portland blog. The article is a really informative interview with Kristy Obbink,Portland Public Schools (PPS) Nutrition Services Director, on her project of including more local food in Portland schools. Obbink's goals are ambitious, and her dedication admirable. The article details specific projects, like trying to sell kids a custom-ordered high-fiber fruit bar from local processors when there's a competing sweetened and highly packaged option, but also talks a bit of philosophy. Here's a particularly cool quote:

“Increasingly, we’re taking a more holistic approach to nutrition. PPS recognizes its role in informing children about the impact of their food choices not just on their personal health, but also on the health of the broader community. That means we’re incorporating social and environmental dimensions into our definition of healthy, nutritious foods.”

An important point in the article is the need for parents to choose to buy school lunches, particularly on days or meals when local or healthier ingredients are highlighted--such higher levels of participation not only provides evidence that the changes pay off (which can leverage greater change in the future), it also provides more money for the schools to work with. And every school nutrition director I've ever spoken to is excited about the possibilities for local fresh food in schools, if only they had more money.