December 6, 2010 update:
The House of Representatives just approved the “Healthy, Hungry Free Kids” act that includes a provision mandating $50 million in a competitive grants program (through USDA) to fund additional local sourcing of food from community farmers, help educate school kids to where their food originates, and to promote healthier eating habits. Though originally published in September 2008, this video is again timely because it provides a good overview of the national farm to school efforts that have been partially achieved in this new bill. The National Farm to School Network has been working for years to improve school nutrition programs in public schools across the country by promoting federal legislation to increase school nutrition funding, and through education programs to reverse the tide of chronic diet related illnesses that plague our nation’s children.
It should also be noted, the USDA just released its 2010 15th annual Household Food Security in the United States (PDF) survey results that measure the relative levels of food security in America’s households. Sadly, 15% of all U.S. households in 2009, including over 17 million children, are reported to have suffered some form of food insecurity, either in mild, or more severe form. Food security is defined in their report as “…all household members had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” In perhaps somewhat characteristic bureaucratic fashion, “food insecurity” as defined in the report, is far more difficult to summarize neatly, but it boils down to roughly meaning, a denial of ready access, at all times, to enough food, to live a healthy, and productive life. By whatever definition, and to whatever the degree, food insecurity is never an enviable state in which to reside.
At a time when more children may only have uninterrupted access to food during their attendance in public school, this legislation required significant compromises. In addition to a modest 6 cent per child funding increase, a key provision in order to secure senate Republican approval, required that funding for the Healthy, Hungry Free Kids act be taken from SNAP, the Food Stamp program. As some food advocates wryly noted, this was the moral equivalent of taking the funds from dinner in order to pay for lunch.
This video is being republished from a live interview recorded in its entirety back in September of 2008.
From our first live broadcast:
If you’re not familiar with the farm to school movement, it’s all about getting fresh, clean, good
food to our kids in school and help create new markets for local farmers. It started as a grassroots movement and has spread across the country. Get in on the conversation with Deb Eschmeyer of the National Farm to School Network, and hear just how far our food system has strayed. Two surprise nuggets (no, not chicken nuggets): a school age child that tastes watermelon for the first time, and knows that flavor only from the bubble gum he chews; the senate in Washington, that has their own organic kitchen with access to fresh, and locally grown foods, but not a single public school in Washington D.C that has an operating kitchen. This is a call to arms, and a call for change in direction, to help our kids grow into healthy adults. If we are to place country first, let’s think first about promoting the welfare of all children.