Saturday, February 14, 2015

Three cheers for Colorado's Farm-to-school movement

Read today's Op-ed about Colorado House Bill 1088 in today's Denver Post.  Here is the lede:
Colorado is known as the nation's leanest state, but this distinction belongs only to its adults. Colorado ranks 29th in the nation for childhood obesity. 
Meanwhile, Colorado's rural economies have not grown at the same pace as those in the Denver metro region. 
Colorado House Bill 1088, sponsored by Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, effectively addresses this childhood obesity problem and uneven economic recovery by providing grants to help farmers produce healthy, nutritious food for public school kids. 
Research shows that farm-to-school programs work for students. They provide kids with healthy food options and teach them about nutrition and food production.
According to the op-ed, sixteen other states support farm-to-school programs, and similar support is being proposed by House Bill 1088.  What Colorado does have right now is a privately funded task force which has been considering how to expand these programs.  According to the op-ed,
Schools have reported to the task force that there simply are not enough local agricultural producers in the market to initiate or expand farm-to-school relationships.
The authors observe that Colorado schools spent $180 million on school meals in 2013-2014, and they assert that keeping more of that money in the state could have economic benefits, especially in rural places.
Farmers who sell to schools see an average 5 percent increase in their total income. Furthermore, studies show that each $1 invested in farm-to-school programs produces $2.16 of local economic activity, and for every one job created by schools purchasing local food, 1.67 more jobs are created locally.
The authors of the op-ed are Jake Williams, the executive director of Healthier Colorado, and Anthony Zamora of Leffler Family Farms in Eaton, a member of Colorado's Farm to School Task Force.

Another post about farm-to-school programming--where the farm is part of the school--is here.

1 comment:

Taylor Call said...

Expanding these programs sounds like a good idea to me. If it benefits the kids, the farmers, and the local economy, why not expand it? The local food and farm to fork movements seem to be continuing to grow in this country. If we can get the kids excited about their food and healthy diets, it could really do a lot for the way our entire agriculture system works (big agriculture shifting to more small, local farms).

I remember getting food at school, and I don't remember seeing much greenery offered besides an occasional salad that consisted of pale green leaves. I will take your word that the research shows that these farm-to-school programs work for students. However, I wonder if the schools will still serve an abundance of fried food and pizza or if they will limit the unhealthy foods and put more healthy food on the kids' plates. Even as an adult, it is hard to resist a slice of pizza in favor of vegetables. As a kid, it is probably just as difficult if not more so.