Children’s nutrition and health are rising as an issue. More than 250 agricultural and anti-hunger leaders — including Presbyterian Hunger Program officials — have called on the U.S. Congress to pass legislation countering obesity and improving nutrition in school lunchrooms.
At its annual meeting on Nov. 10 in Boston, The Farm to Cafeteria Projects Act, which encourages to help schools create a healthy menu for children through grants to school, was urged to be passed by the Community Food Security Coalition.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is a CFSC member. Other participating groups included food banks, farmers’ markets, community farms, sustainable agriculture groups, food co-ops, anti-hunger advocates, social justice and public health organizations.
The legislation also carries an agricultural education component, encouraging students to agriculture through visits to farms and farmers markets, visits by local farmers to classrooms and other hands-on farm-to-school activities.
CFSC leaders called the bill a “win-win” as both the students and farmers will benefit from it - students will gain access to farm-fresh produce and farmers increase their income and become more involved in their communities.
“When kids connect the source of their food with the person who grew it, like a vine ripened tomato, they are much more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Marion Kalb, national Farm to School Program Director.
In addition to organizing support for healthy school meals, the 550 CFSC conference participants also discussed issues related to strengthening the local and regional economies by connecting farmers to regional markets.
Kang Bartlett, who has co-chaired the coalition’s Faith Based Committee for the past two years, led a workshop entitled “Questioning the Moral Claims of Genetic Engineering: Faith Based Perspectives in the Global Debate.”
“Interest in community food security is soaring, as a solution to rising obesity levels in our country, the increase in hunger and food insecurity and the continued challenges facing America’s family farms,” said CFSC Executive Director, Andy Fisher.
“It is important that we stop talking about ending hunger and start talking
about building food security for the disenfranchised,” said newly elected CFSC president Sharon Thornberry, director of the Oregon Food Bank. “Everyone from seniors to children, and inner city to rural residents need access to an adequate or nutritious food supply, even the average person who lives on fast food.”