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School Cafeterias Get Healthy Makeover

One school teaches kids to grow and harvest their food.

I love watching Jamie Oliver in action working on the state of emergency we are in when it comes to the health of our children. Obesity rates continue to climb, but I feel a positive change is happening. It will take effort from all of us to make a difference. Jamie Oliver can only do so much on his own.

First lady Michelle Obama has been bringing national attention to the issue of healthy foods in our schools. More importantly, parents are getting involved and letting their schools know they want healthier foods in the school cafeterias.

Besides parental involvement through the PTAs, nutrition committees are starting to pop up. These committees can help with the sourcing of different varieties of food and to work with local food suppliers to get more nutritious foods, that haven’t been frozen or traveled long distances, into the kids’ tummies.

Schools are making changes from coast-to-coast that can be made in your local community as well. Shown below are a few great examples of how schools across the country are taking serious action that is inspirational and shows that yes, we can change.

Huntington, WV: This town and school district has become well known to American families across the country who are tuning into Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. The British TV chef is working to reform school meals that are all based on the premise that food should be all-natural, healthy, nutritious, and tasty. Huntington has been touted as the unhealthiest city in America, but with a community coming together and through the education and empowerment given to these kids, change is happening.

New York, NY: Rachael Ray, who first became famous for her 30 minute meals on the Food Network, has been creating recipes for New York City school cafeterias through her Yum-O initiative. Some of the recipes include steamed vegetables and soft tacos. Her recipes are available through the Yum-O website. Hopefully these healthy recipes will continue to spread throughout the New York City school systems.

Baltimore, MD: In February, I wrote a post on Meatless Monday encouraging readers to eat more vegetables and source their food locally when possible. The schools in Baltimore, with over 80,000 students, have taken the idea of Meatless Monday by storm. The trend has been incorporated in the cafeterias at all city schools. The district is also working towards the goal of sourcing local foods from nearby farmers, which has positive effects on both the local community and the environment.

Berkeley, CA: The Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School is not only working to ensure that students eat healthy foods, but also that they understand where these foods are coming from. On a thriving one-acre plot of land, the Edible School Yard has become an interactive classroom for students to plant, grow and harvest foods to eat. This concept is truly from seed to fork; hopefully more schools will have the opportunity for this type of experiment.

April 24th, 2010

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