Somewhere out there in America, there is a teacher who is causing a ruckus…while staying anonymous. This woman has started ‘Fed Up: School Lunch Project’ blog. She has committed to eating school lunch, just like the kids, every day. She photographs what she eats and describes how it tastes and how it makes her feel. At the end of each month she makes a tally of the types of meals she has had over the last month (4 pizza meals, 2 cheese sandwiches, etc.). EVERYTHING comes wrapped in plastic and on trays that are not biodegradable. She doesn’t claim to have a ton of knowledge when it comes to nutrition, but she knew something was inherently and greatly wrong with the way we feed our school children. This just goes to show that you don’t need to have a degree in something to understand that there is something very wrong with it. Check out her blog and if you happen to be a teacher, maybe try doing this yourself. If you won’t touch that food, how can we give it to our children?
Jamie Oliver is a British chef who has put out numerous cookbooks, been on plenty of talk shows, and had a few shows of his own. While many celebrity chefs may be content to bask in the glory of all of that, he is not. In 2004, he started the ‘School Dinners’ campaign in England. Much like our school lunch system here, England’s was based on dumping empty calories into the school system, and having children, those who needed proper nutrition most, consume these food-like substances. This, of course, can (and does) lead to behavioral problems, malnutrition, and weight gain or childhood obesity. Through his heart work, he managed to get Prime Minister Tony Blair behind the project and offer more funding for school meals, replacing freeze dried chili dogs with fresh food. Jamie decided to bring the same principles that made School Dinners a successful campaign to America in the form of ‘Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.’ He started out in Huntington, West Virginia. This town has the lovely distinction of being the most unhealthy town in the United States. He has been heckled by a local DJ and lunch ladies. He has discovered that there are some youngsters that do not know the difference between a tomato and a potato. There has definitely been some resistance. We can follow this journey starting on March 26 at 9PM on ABC.
When he was working on ‘School Dinners,’ Jamie wrote up a manifesto for everyone to read. Here’s a version of that with some extra sass added by the Tricycle Crew.
There is no quick fix solution to this epidemic. We must plan for this change and keep stepping it up for the next ten years or however long it takes. Local and national government must take initiative to create and maintain healthier citizens.
In the schools: Bring back Home Ec classes, but make them funky (and mandatory!). This MUST include an introduction to gardening and growing your own food. This is KEY. Getting young hands in the soil and then into the kitchen (after a good hand washing) will do wonders for a young person’s (1) ability to make healthy decisions, (2) connection to nature, and (3) consciousness and appreciation of where food comes from.
Job creation!: Each school needs to employ one (or even two!) people to teach our newly funkified home ec/gardening courses. According to the US Census, there are 95,615 public schools in the United States. With this new initiative, we could create 95,000 to just over 191,000 jobs! In the big scheme of things this isn’t a massive number, but it could really transform things for us. Schools need to also reach out to local organizations specializing in sustainability practices, gardening and farming. Building a partnership in which these organizations can come in and host workshops for teachers (to incorporate what they learn into their lessons plans) and/or the children would be great for further strengthening the community around these new (but not reeeeally new) practices. As long as the exchange of information is taking place, we’re getting somewhere.
Administrators: We have to put pressure on our principles to support this and take it to their superiors. Send letters and educational materials showing the connection between children’s behaviors and their levels of nutrition. What administrator wouldn’t want children who are less hyper and more attentive?
Our lunch ladies!: We need to have recognized (fresh!) qualifications for this job. A box cutter should NOT be the “cooking tool” of choice in our schools. Let these great people do something other than rehydrating and reheating commercial foodstuffs! Just like the kids, the current system leaves them lacking a connection with the food around them. Train them in seasonality and sustainable food. Let the lunch ladies part the biege sea of fried foodstuffs and lead us to a tastier tomorrow!
Parents!: You MUST make school food an issue everywhere you go. Bring it up at PTA meetings and even hold special meetings that focus solely on the nutrition (or lack thereof) your children are receiving while at school. Try to come up with solutions that meet your schools individual needs. Have guest speakers come out to show how all of this can be done at home, too. For example, bring someone in that can show you a couple easy recipes that you can simply throw into the Crock-Pot or make in one pot. Have ‘label reading’ workshops where you can better understand all of the AgriBusiness hullabaloo they’re able to get onto nutrition labels. Find out what you really get when you go to the supermarket.
We urge all of you to check out Jamie Oliver’s program next month and to take a look at your child’s school lunch menu…and then maybe cause some trouble and shake things up a bit. 🙂
More and more people everyday are becoming FED UP with being fed food-like substances, and not real food. Keep questioning!
Due to the snowy snow, we are canceling tomorrow’s event. We will keep you posted for a reschedule. Enjoy the peace that comes with the snow!
xo the TG crew
Join Sponge at Reference Gallery for a night of ecological presentations, projects, performances and provocations. The evening, in an unbridled display of hybrid vigor, will feature Lisa Taranto of Tricycle Gardens, the participants of Colablablab, who will display their goings-on in full science-fair array, and biologist (our esteemed lab instructor) Dan Carr. See strategies for post-apocalyptic survival, refashion found objects, sample homemade bibimbap, learn about permaculture and much, much more. Come with knowledge to share and leave with your very own hand-felted water molecule.
*Sponge Night at Reference has been moved to Tuesday, Feb 2, in anticipation of abundant snow* See you on 2/2 from 7-9 on 216 E. Main St. Free and open to all; spread the word. Pleased to report that goings-on will be as follows:
Jan 25, 6:30 PM – Ashland Coffee & Tea – Free Viewing of New Video, Develop a Sustainable Vegetable Garden Plan.
http://www.homeplaceearth.com/6.html for more details on the video along with their other video, Cover Crops and Compost Crops In Your Garden
Bring some seeds or perennials to trade . Go home with new varieties, tips, and stories. Bring a dish to share (optional) and bring a garden hat to decorate if you’re feeling creative! Find out about upcoming volunteer opportunities as well. This event is free! We hope to see you there!
Check out this amazing project, gorgeous website, and abundant resource of what is going on in Virginia. The shifting agriculture sector of Virginia is being documented by local photographer Gordon Stillman.
From his website: The Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Documentary Project plans to photographically document sustainable farming, from preparing the soil to the delivery of food to market. The photography will tell the entire story of sustainable farming–the food, faces, bodies, land and equipment. This project will convey: 1) all the benefits of sustainable farming and eating locally, 2) any difficulties involved in sustainable farming and local food distribution, and 3) any benefits or problems with community networks or CSA programs, and 4) how to incorporate sustainable practices and habits into a community. Once this has been photographically documented, in one growing season, the images and information will be presented to the public. The photographs will be printed in a limited edition book, hung in a Richmond gallery, discussed in educational presentations, and this blog will continue to display the photographs. This project will be fun, informative and will help promote local food and sustainable production in Virginia.