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Three Exciting Initiatives for Changing School Food in the U.S.
Editor's Note from Susan Lutz: Schools are learning that nutrition is the basis and foundation to learning. Interesting and innovative ideas are cropping up across the country.
Perhaps the most urgent aspect of the United States’ obesity problem is the early age at which many American children begin to develop weight- and nutrition-related conditions. Developing unhealthy eating habits at a young age not only predisposes children to diabetes and other nutrition-related health disorders, but it can make it all the more difficult to maintain a healthful lifestyle later in life. For these reasons, greater emphasis is being placed on schools’ role in providing wholesome food options for students, while also teaching them healthy eating habits.
There are hundreds of initiatives around the country providing nutritious food and building healthy eating habits in schools:
LiveWell@SchoolFood Initiatives (Colorado) – This organization has developed a number of creative ways to address and stimulate healthy eating for students in Colorado schools. In the EatWell@School Initiative, high school students engage in a 9-week competition to design and prepare the most innovative, nutritious, and tasty school lunches. The Go, Slow, Whoa project teaches elementary school children to identify healthy and harmful foods, and to develop awareness of their own eating habits.
New York Coalition for Healthy School Food (New York) – Among the various projects undertaken by the Coalition since its inception in 2004, Cool School Food is exceptionally original. This project designs and tests plant- and legume-based school cafeteria menus in collaboration with a number of acclaimed restaurants and organizations—including the prestigious James Beard Foundation—in both Ithaca and New York City.
The Kitchen Community (Illinois)– In Chicago, The Kitchen Community has installed Learning Gardens at 16 different city schools, all within the past year. The purpose of these gardens is to teach students about planting and natural food, and also to incorporate the vegetables they produce in their own school cafeteria menus. Just in the past month, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has dedicated $1 million of the funding left over from the 2012 NATO Summit to The Kitchen Community’s initiative to construct 60 more Learning Gardens in Chicago schools.
What other projects or organizations are addressing food issues in American schools in equally unique ways, please let us know in the comments!
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The co-founders of Food Tank, Ellen Gustafson and Danielle Nierenberg, hope to bridge the domestic and global food issues by highlighting how hunger, obesity, climate change, unemployment, and other problems can be solved by more research and investment in agriculture.
Food Tank will highlight hope and success in agriculture. We will feature innovative ideas that are already working on the ground, in cities, in kitchens, in fields and in laboratories. These innovations need more attention, more research, and ultimately more funding to be replicated and scaled-up. And that is where we need you. Because we all need to work together to find solutions that nourish us and our planet.
To watch the Food Tank trailer, click here
To see Ellen's bio, click here
To see Danielle's bio, click here