Is there anything quite as good as a piping hot ear of sweet corn, fresh from your own garden out back?
Of course not. It’s fresh, clean, pure — touched by nothing but sunshine and rain, and nurturing, fertile soil. That is the kind of good food we should encourage our youngsters to eat, every chance we get.
Mountains of processed chicken nuggets and over-salted tater tots threaten to pork out our school children to the point of dangerous weight — the kind of excess baggage that begins to alter your lifestyle.
Not only do we need to encourage our children to get up off the couch and go outside and play, we have to be vigilant about getting them to eat right. It’s a whole lot easier to get your butt up off the couch if your butt isn’t so big.
We’d like to highlight and cheer on a state program that is putting fresh, home grown foods into the bellies of our children when they are at school.
As the calendar year 2012 came to an end, North Carolina cabbage, broccoli crowns, Romaine lettuce, apple slices, sweet potatoes and collards were featured in school lunches in 59 school systems across the state, as part of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Farm to School program.
“This marks the final shipment for 2012, and it includes some of the same vegetables that are holiday meal favorites in many homes,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “It is great that schools can provide fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetable options year-round. Collards, cabbage, apples and sweet potatoes will make up the next deliveries in early January when students return.”
The N.C. Farm to School program is managed by the NCDA&CS Food Distribution and Marketing divisions. Participating school systems place orders for the locally grown fruit and vegetables.
The Food Distribution Division works with child nutrition directors to secure orders and is also responsible for picking up and delivering the fresh produce from the farm to school systems. The Marketing Division works with local farmers to source the commodities for orders and designs promotional materials for school districts that focus on nutritional information and the benefits of locally grown produce.
The fruits and vegetables in the program are grown by farmers located from the coast to the mountains. Participating farms are certified in Good Agricultural Practices, which is a food safety certification that ensures all produce is grown and packaged under safe conditions.
The nearly 60 school systems that participated in December purchases included Richmond County.
For the 2012-2013 school year, the N.C. Farm to School program will offer the following fruits and vegetables to school districts statewide: watermelons, cantaloupes, slicing and grape tomatoes, several varieties of apples, peaches, sweet corn, cucumbers, kale, broccoli crowns, sweet potatoes, green cabbage, collards, romaine lettuce, apple slices, sweet potatoes, strawberries, yellow squash, zucchini and blueberries.
The Farm to School program is a winner, and needs our continued support, to further change the eating habits of our youngsters so they live longer and healthier lives.