The Food Miles Project
Food miles are the distance food travels from field to fork. The average American meal travels 1,500 food miles. That distance has consequences for the environment, just ask the students in Ms. Loeser's fifth grade class last year at Cleveland Elementary School.
After growing their own vegetables in Cleveland's school garden last spring, the fifth graders enjoyed a low-impact, local meal courtesy of Arizmendi. The neighborhood bakery co-op, which is located within walking distance to the school, turned the kids' garden veggies into pizza! After enjoying that very local meal, the students tracked the food miles in a typical OUSD school lunch. They found the items on the menu had traveled approximately 10,260 miles total, coming from as far away as Mexico and Minnesota.
The class then presented their findings to Nutrition Services Director Jennifer LeBarre, who welcomed the information. When the class alerted her that the asparagus served at lunch had traveled 18,000 miles, LeBarre decided things needed to change. Nutrition Services has now started a relationship with Community Alliance of Family Farmers (CAFF) to get fresh, local produce into our schools, bringing the future of school food that much closer to home.
This school year, OUSD has set the goal of increasing local purchases in the District to a minimum of 25 percent fresh and local food products. LeBarre explained that "we will focus mostly on 'side of the plate' purchases like salad bars, hand-held fruit, vegetable sides, featuring Harvest of the Month and Cafeteria Crop produce, and developing a Farm-to-School educational plan."
Article provided by Mary Loeser, Sarah Stephens, and Mary Schriner.
For more information about school lunch food miles and Nutrition Services' innovative programs, email Jennifer LeBarre at firstname.lastname@example.org.