What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Tue, May 05, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Gordon Jenkins
White House chef Sam Kass and a team of Chicago high school students are serving Congressional leaders a delicious, healthy meal on Capitol Hill today in order to brief Congress on the need to invest in the National School Lunch Program. The mealwhich features carrot quesadillas, stuffed peppers and saladwas designed by high school students participating in the Healthy Schools Campaign’s Cooking Up Change contest. The students were asked to make a delicious, nourishing meal using ingredients typically available to food service directors. Over 40,000 school children in cities across the U.S. will be served the same meal today in their school cafeterias.
Many organizations are focusing their attention on this years reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which is the bill that funds and sets standards for the National School Lunch Program. Over 30 million children eat school lunch everyday. If were going to build a nation where everyone is able to enjoy food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet, then theres no better place to start than in schools. here, on CNN]
Posted on Thu, April 30, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Bon Appétit Management Company, a socially responsible food service provider operating on 400 university campuses and in corporate cafés throughout 29 states, has forged a new agreement that frames acceptable working conditions and enforces those conditions with a strict code of conduct. Appalled by what federal prosecutors describe as slavery, one of the largest food service companies in the country has promised to boycott Florida tomatoes unless conditions improve. Bon Appétit’s chief executive called on growers to “do the right thing and our five million pounds of business can go to them. Or they can let the tomatoes rot in the fields.”
The new frontier in sustainable food is social justice and pressure from labor organizations is part of that new wave, but defending ‘green’ credentials is at the heart of it.
Posted on Wed, April 29, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
by Gordon Jenkins
Patricia Mulvey reports on the blog F is for French Fry that last Friday, a group of fourth-graders at Nuestro Mundo Elementary School in Madison, WI had planned to protest the unhealthy food served in their cafeteria by staying behind in class during recess and enjoying a home-cooked meal with fresh fruits and vegetables. Their Real Food Picnic you might call it an Eat-In was canceled, however, when the school districts assistant superintendent alerted parents and administrators and asked them to discourage the event, citing concerns about food allergies, lack of supervision and the presence of news media.
The students are members of a group called Boycott School Lunch (BCSL) that they founded last fall after conducting some gross experiments like measuring how much grease they could squeeze out of a hamburger. This year, theyve been learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement in history class. When teacher Joshua Forehand showed them a film about the Childrens Crusade that took place in Birmingham, AL in 1963, the students were inspired to organize a peaceful protest in support of improving school lunch.
Posted on Tue, April 28, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
The School Lunch conversation is heating up on the Hill and off. The New York Times ran an editorial on Monday saying “The schools should not be trading their students health to buy office supplies,” and lauding Representative Lynn Woolsey, Democrat of California, and Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, for introducing (and promising to introduce) bills that would “update nutritional standards and give the Department of Agriculture broader authority to promulgate new regulations for food sold in schools that accept federal food subsidies.”
For more information about those bills, as well as for excellent daily coverage of school food policy—as covered by the Child Nutrition Act, up for reauthorization this September—check out schoolfoodpolicy.com.
Posted on Fri, April 24, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Allison Archer, an Emory student, did her thesis project on sustainability initiatives at her school—CNN saw it, liked it and condensed it into a 4.5 minute piece, all about how integrating sustainable food into the equation is an essential component of greening a campus. This is just one example of how Slow Food on Campus chapters are beginning to take the nation by storm. There are currently 20 Slow Food on Campus chapters, around the country, all working to address the need for a good, clean and fair food system in the United States and abroad. Students who participate in Slow Food on Campus are passionately organizing their peers, faculty and greater campus community to organize around a fairer food system.
Slow Food Emory is one of the newest Slow Food on Campus chapters, which makes it all the more impressive that they already gaining national attention for their initiatives. As they explain, Slow Food Emory hopes to heal ties severed by industrial fare and the campus meal plan.Ԡ The chapter has held potluck picnics, developed an edible school garden for the Captain Planet Foundation, and hosted a restaurant raffle that has introduced students to local, sustainable restaurants in the community.
For more information about what other Slow Food on Campus chapters are doing around the country and how to start a chapter at your college or university, check out the Slow Food on Campus page on our website.
Posted on Mon, March 23, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Farm fresh food often gets a bad rap for being more expensive. Better school food? “More expensive,” think most. Think again: in Oregon state lawmakers are looking for ways to stimulate the local economy, and it turns out that locally produced food in 91 school lunchrooms may be one way to do it. Kaiser Permanente Community Fund at the Northwest Health Foundation has analyzed investing in the local food economy and discovered that:
1. A small amount of money can leverage much greater investment in local purchasing.
2. For every food dollar spent locally by two school districts, an additional 87 cents was spent in Oregon.
3. The economic investments in the Oregon agricultural community trigger successive spending in almost every part of the Oregon economy.
Deborah Kane the Vice President of the Food and Farms program for Ecotrust says, “This research confirms that the farm-to-school programs are a viable investment that can make an immediate impact on nearly every sector of our state’s economy.”
And that’s not all. The study noted other benefits including a greater variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and an increased demand for local products. For example, apples, beef, chili, cheese and corn are now sourced locally. As a result of these positive benefits, two Oregon legislators are now proposing a bill to expand from the current two school districts to a statewide farm to school effort.
To read more about the study, click here.
Posted on Mon, March 16, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
Also, check out the New York Times Sunday Styles’ piece on The American Academy in Rome, and how Alice—and a former Chez Panisse chef Mona Talbott—have transformed the dining hall there. As Mona says in the article: “We came with a mandate to create a new model for institutional dining to change the culture of institutional food so that its seasonal, nutritious and local. But it has become more than I ever expected. We have created a real community.
Posted on Thu, February 26, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
This week we have been focusing on the Farm to College efforts around the country. Today, we shift our focus to K-12, where what is served in the lunchroom is also a) up for grabs and b) vitally important. Been in a school cafeteria lately? If you have you’ve seen that it is dominated by junk food, and reheated calorie-laden, carb-o-rific meals. A horrible school lunch is a lost nutritional/health opportunity, and a lost educational opportunity.
Last week you may recall that Debra Eschmeyer wrote a letter to Michelle Obama, letting her know about the upcoming reauthorization of the Childhood Nutrition Act, and calling for her interest and participation (the Childhood Nutrition Act establishes the guidelines for school lunch among other things). In order to take advantage of this moment, today as we post this, the Community Food Security Coalition, the National Farm to School Network, and School Food FOCUS are holding briefings on the Hill—with both the House and the Senate—to make the case for “supporting policy solutions that restore the right of all children to access good food in school; that educate and inform communities about healthy food and its impact on the wellbeing of children; and that connect farmers, school districts, food service companies, and great ideas to the food system delivering school lunch.” To read their excellent CNR briefing, click here and stay tuned for outcomes and reporting back on their day on the Hill.
Also, make sure you read Alice Waters’ and Katrina Heron’s Op-Ed in last week’s NY Times, in which they call for a radical overhaul of the school lunch program, saying “without healthy food (and cooks and kitchens to prepare it), increased financing will only create a larger junk-food distribution system. We need to scrap the current system and start from scratch. Washington needs to give schools enough money to cook and serve unprocessed foods that are produced without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. When possible, these foods should be locally grown.”
Posted on Thu, February 26, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
This past weekend I, along with a Slow Food USA national office colleague and 300+ college students, ventured to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for the Northeast Real Food Summit, organized by the Real Food Challenge.
Whats the Real Food Challenge, you ask?
First, its a campaign that is seeking to make concrete and lasting change in university dining halls, with a target to redirect 20% of all food purchased by colleges and universities (currently 4 billion dollars) towards real food by 2020. Second, it is a network of students around the country that shares information and resources about how to achieve this goal, as well as the larger goals of reforming the food system at large.
Slow Food works closely with the Real Food Challenge and its student activists so when we were asked to present a workshop during the Summit, there was no hesitation. While we discussed Slow Food, focusing on Slow Food on Campus, the youth experience at Terra Madre and Slow Food Nation and the youth movement as a whole, students in other workshops learned about procuring local, organic, seasonal and sustainable food for their campus dining services. They heard about strategies for approaching university presidents and dining service directors, with an emphasis on universities’ and colleges’ present desire to improve their sustainability ratings.
The dining service providers that supplied our meals for the weekend pulled out all the stops to impress the collection of food activists and left no empty bellies. Overall, the weekend inspired conversations, connections, education, networking, and inspiration for all participants and left everyone with a renewed excitement for the youth movement.
To get involved in the Real Food Challenge (and find out information on the 4 other regional summits happening in the next few weeks), click here.
To read about efforts in sustainable dining on the University of Montana campus, read our post from a few days ago.
Posted on Mon, February 23, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
All around the country, there is a revolution occurring in University Dining Halls. In some cases, universities and colleges are realizing the importance of sustainability/green initiatives in attracting students to their campuses; in other cases, these changes to a more sustainable and delicious food supply are happening as the result of student efforts. At the University of Montana, Dining Services is working with a local community-based food coalition. In today’s post, Lianna Bishop, a recent college grad and Terra Madre 2008 youth delegate writes to us from Missoula Montana about her role in helping the University’s dining services go local.
Greetings from Big Sky Country Missoula, Montana! After graduating from Marquette University in May of 2008, I continued on the next step of my journey in strengthening local food communities at the University of Montana. In July, I began work as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer working in conjunction with The University of Montana Dining Services and the nonprofit organization Grow Montana, a broad-based coalition that works to support policies that promote community based food production. The AmeriCorps VISTA program is specifically designed to fight poverty and address food insecurity issues. As the Farm to College Coordinator at the University of Montana, I join four other FoodCorps volunteers around the state to promote community economic development policies that improve citizen access, particularly in schools and universities, to local Montana foods.
Slow Food International also runs a publishing company, Slow Food Editore, which specializes in tourism, food and wine. The library now contains about 40 titles and houses Slow, the award-winning quarterly herald of taste and culture, available in five languages: Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.