Have you ever wondered why more schools don’t jump on the local food bandwagon? I’ve always kind of had a Utopian view of school–like it is where we teach our kids to become the kind of humans we WANT them to be, not necessarily the kind we currently ARE. When I was younger, the schools were totally pushing recycling–a concept that my parents’ generation thought liberal and ridiculous–but now, here we all are, most of us with recycling bins right next to our garbage cans. So why haven’t we taken the same principle with local whole foods in the school cafeterias? We could stimulate our local economies and fuel our babies with vitamin packed options–to me it sounds like a no-brainer.
Turns out, though, there are lots of reasons schools haven’t fully committed to local options–none of them very good, but all of them very understandable. According to an article I read, several schools across the nation have tried diligently to offer local foods. Still, roughly 64% of schools in the United States are not offering any local food choices. Probably because, wouldn’t you know it, there is a lot of red tape. There’s paperwork, contracts, supply and demand, proof of insurance, lack of availability of “approved” items, lack of federal backing, etc. All of which lead school district officials to take the simplified route and order all of their supplies from one large conglomerate, rather than vetting several individual farmers on a school by school basis.
I know change is slow, and there are a lot of really great programs out there trying to change the way we buy, prepare and consume foods–some of them are probably schools. So, I want to know, do your kids’ school lunch program offer local selections? Or does Sysco pull up in a semi and drop off boxes of chicken nuggets and baby carrots from Mexico? Do you care either way?