Good ideas have a way of spreading like a healthy virus. October is National Farm to School Month, and although it celebrates U.S. initiatives, Canadian communities are catching this virus too.
That’s none too soon. In “School Lunch”, a new video from Nourish, Michael Pollan says, “Most school lunch programs in America are a scandal.” Canada, on the other hand, has the dubious distinction of being the only G8 country without a national school lunch program.
Community nutritionists with grit and persistence have refused to accept that status quo. In 2001, Debbie Field, Executive Director of Toronto’s Food Share, launched a salad bar program in city schools. She was inspired by the Farmers’ Market Fresh Fruit and Salad Bar she visited in a Santa Monica school and brought the idea north.
A colleague in British Columbia, Joanne Bays, envisioned launching the program in her home province. Dream became reality in 2007 with the launch of the first Farm to School Salad Bar Pilot Project at Dragon Lake Elementary School in Quesnel, B.C. Of that first successful year, Bays says:
Children excited about vegetables — now there is a sight to make anyone believe in the possibility of change. Here is the way Bays describes Farm to School Salad Bar:
The Farm to School Salad Bar concept is refreshingly simple! A relationship is developed between a school and local farms. Foods are grown, harvested, processed and served up in a salad bar twice per week in participating schools….Children, parents, school staff, farmers – whole communities – benefit from a program that broadens knowledge and experiences growing, harvesting, preparing and tasting fresh local greens.
B.C.’s health sector has provided the largest share of dollars for the program. Funding partners have included the Ministry of Health, B.C. Healthy Living Alliance, the Public Health Association of B.C., and the province’s regional health authorities.
First Photo of Dragon Lake Elementary from Farm to School, Second Photo from adactio via Flickr Creative Commons
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