Conscientious Cook: Local Food for Local Schools

"The processing of our food is profoundly disgusting, and the accumulation of packaging fills a giant barrel at my school every day."

That's a quote from 5th-grader Aden Kahr of Olympia, Washington. Yes, 5th-grade - quite well-spoken for such a young man! Aden has diabetes, and he has some opinions on his school lunches...

In yesterday's Seattle PI article, we read how Aden takes a turkey sandwich, fruit and carrots to school every day, unlike his friends at a south Seattle elementary school who don't have that choice. For them, the free lunch program offers burritos, pizza, and other processed foods.

Seattle is currently evaluating a bill to get more local food into school cafeterias and connect local farms with schools. It's sponsored by unlikely bedfellows: the environmental community and the conservative Washington Farm Bureau.The bill would connect local farmers with schools and help fund better foods in low-income schools - foods like fresh, local fruits and vegetables.

This is similar to the issues that farmers are raising in New York - see the article from October: Local Carrots with a Side of Red Tape.

It's also a good reminder to be on the lookout for bills and issues like this in our own local communities; what is the food like in the schools near you?

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.