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School meal providers convening to FOCUS on school lunch

Mar. 19, 2010

by intern Julia Landau

Over 100 school food service directors, community activists, and government agency partners will convene at the second Annual Meeting of the organization School Food FOCUS in Chicago on March 25-27, 2010.

School Food FOCUS supports the nation’s largest urban school districts in their efforts to procure more healthful, more sustainably produced and regionally sourced food. FOCUS was developed in response to a call by urban school districts to transform the quality of school food. The organization is also driven by a recognition that improving the meal service in large school districts with major purchasing power can go a long way towards improving the food system nationwide.

The keynote speaker of next week’s conference is Jan Poppendieck, author of the new book “Free For All: Fixing School Food in America” (We reviewed it on this blog last month). The meeting will also feature the first Real School Food Showcase - a selection of carefully chosen chicken, whole grain and other food products available for institutional purchasing that strive to meet FOCUS criteria for more healthful, local, and sustainable.

The meeting will highlight demonstrated successes in sourcing local and nutritious school food. There will be a conversation with USDA officials, giving participants the chance to learn more about the new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program and the upcoming Childhood Nutrition Act.

This is seriously good timing for talking about school lunch. Senator Blanche Lincoln just introduced her draft of the Child Nutrition Act, and the Agriculture Committee will begin marking it up on March 24. Slow Food USA is asking legislators to invest in healthier food, strengthen nutrition standards and link schools to local farms – click here to learn how you can help.

[photo, from Fed up with school lunch]
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