With my son in currently attending a Waldorf preschool that makes all its own food from scratch (from organic ingredients), it’s been too easy for me to ignore what’s going on in public school cafeterias. Next week, November 8-12, 2010 Virginia will celebrate its second Virginia Farm to School Week, part of the greater Farm to School project. The goal is to serve local food and to educate children (and teachers and the community) on the importance of supporting local agriculture.
I recently heard about an impressive array of events from a member of the Farm to School Committee at Alexandria City’s George Mason Elementary School. The committee is sending home a letter to parents and caregivers that details the many wonderful efforts going on at the school.
The kindergarteners will begin the week with an apple tasting, and on Wednesday, second graders will have the opportunity to join a chef from Restaurant Eve in a “Chef’s Tasting.” Thursday night (November 11) is restaurant night at Food Matters starting at 5:00. A portion of the sales from that evening will go right back to George Mason Elementary.
Throughout the week, the school “will highlight some of the delicious seasonal foods grown on farms nearby, and the importance of farm-fresh foods as part of a healthy diet and healthy planet.” I’m told that local broccoli, butternut squash, and apples will be served in the cafeteria.
The letter to parents also offers some great suggestions for parents, which I’m quoting here in blue:
Additionally, your family can celebrate farm-fresh, local foods at home by…..
- Visiting a community garden –
or visit our very own George Mason children’s garden where our students have been busy planting pansies, beets, swiss chard, lettuces, wheat, cotton, and tulip bulbs as well as harvesting cucumbers and peppers.
- Shopping at a farmers’ market near you, where growers bring fresh produce to sell right to your neighborhood. Find a list of markets at the following websites –
- Visit a farm nearby with your family and experience firsthand where food comes from. Here are a few of our favorites –
- Learn what foods are in season around here in the fall – and try them! This time of year, local farmers are harvesting apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, kale and more. Learn more at www.vafarmtoschool.org/week.
Additionally, the letter helps parents understand why they should bother caring about local and seasonal eating.
Local foods are fresher (and taste better).
Local foods are seasonal.
Local foods have less environmental impact.
Local foods preserve green space and farmland.
Local foods promote food safety.
Local foods support your local economy.
Local foods provide variety.
Local foods create a community.
Local farm fresh foods are packed with nutrition.
Local foods are healthy for us and our planet.
Way to go, George Mason Elementary! Let’s look forward to efforts like this throughout Alexandria City Public Schools next year.
And let’s hope that eventually we can go from celebrating a week to this just being the norm!
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