Friday, November 5, 2010

Can You Dig It? Farm to School Virginia 2010

It's been a while since I've ordered from a school cafeteria menu. But, if they're anything like they were when I was in school (and something tells me they are), then it goes like this: Monday: Pizza; Tuesday: Nuggets; Wednesday: Pizza; Thursday: Corn Dogs; Friday: Pizza.

But next week, that's all set to change for kids in Albemarle County, Charlottesville City and Greene County Schools thanks to Farm to School Week 2010. Started just last year, Farm to School is now an official annual occurrence, thanks to House Joint Resolution 95 passed in 2009.

And, like last year, Local Food Hub is excited to be a part of the action. The best part is that this year, lots of schools are participating, and they're doing so in a big way. More than 25 schools are purchasing local, fresh, healthy food for their lunch programs in and around Charlottesville. By my math, that means more than 11,000 public school children will have the option to purchase a healthy lunch next week.

The schools are buying great stuff, too: apples, potatoes, broccoli, winter squash, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms, and grass-fed beef are just a few of the things Local Food Hub will be delivering over the next few days. Chef salads, soft tacos, steamed broccoli, shepherds pie, baked sweet potatoes and lasagna -- all made from local, fresh ingredients -- will grace menus across the city and county, thanks to great effort by school staff and parents. All are a far cry from the corn dogs and frozen pizza from my school days.

In addition to making the purchase and delivery of this food possible, Local Food Hub will also be providing informational materials about the farms where the food was produced, and a few of us (myself and Steve!) will be attending schools during lunch hours to talk with kids and sample some apples. Fun!

“Virginia schools spend more than $6 million annually on fresh produce. Farm to School Week gives us a great opportunity to keep those dollars right here in our community, while also providing healthy, fresh foods for our kids.” says Local Food Hub Director Kate Collier. “Our dedicated community of individual supporters and foundations has been integral in making all of this possible. We hope the excitement around local food will encourage more people to get involved with Local Food Hub!”

One way you can make sure that Farm to School Week 2010 is a success is by participating!  Encourage your kids to buy lunch next week, and spread the word to parents and teachers, too.  If the response from the community is great, we know the schools will keep it up!

We're also really excited about some creative thinking by Sofia Case and the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.  Check back next week to see how they helped to bridge the gap on pricing for a portion of the foods supplied during Farm to School Week!

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