Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama opened the new FreshFarms Market by the White House. Next week, the fresh, local food movement will march not on the marble steps of the Capitol, but down hallways of the District’s public, charter and private schools. As part of this week’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” roll-out by the US Department of Agriculture, additional tools and $50 million in funds were announced to help bring healthy, local foods into schools, now, without waiting for Congress to take up school lunch re-authorization. (Which isn’t going to happen until next year.)
Also not waiting for Congress to act is the new DC Farm to School Network, which is launching “Local Flavor Week” September 21-25 as the opening foray into bringing the regions farmers into local schools. Together with the Capital Area Food Bank, Whole Foods and other community partners, DC Farm to School is coordinating a full week of taste tests, cooking demonstrations, farmer visits and nutritional education activities. The festivities kick-off Tuesday at the Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School cafeteria in Southeast DC, where local chefs Peter Smith of PS7 and Oliver Friendly of Eat and Smile Foods will compete Top Chef-style using ingredients grown in the school’s garden.
Andrea Northup, coordinator of the DC Farm to School Network, notes that the District has one of highest child obesity rates in the nation. “School-aged children consume most of their daily calories in school meals, so it makes sense that we should connect school with nearby sources of fruits and vegetables to serve in their cafeterias. The only way the District’s schoolchildren will thrive is if they are well nourished and armed with the skills they need to make healthy lifestyle choices.”
If you’re in the area, find out more about participating schools and activities — and volunteer opportunities — at dcfarmtoschool.org/localflavorweek. And to find a Farm-to-School organization in your state, take a look at the National Farm-to-School map.
PS If you didn’t catch my live tweets from the White House market opening, here’s a slideshow recap (click picture to view):
You can read more about the market opening, and see pics of the First Lady and Chef Kass (whom I missed waiting in the security line), on Cookography, Obama Foodorama and the twitter stream from @FreshFarmMktsDC.
Don’t forget it’s Fight Back Friday — visit the Food Renegade to join in!