Friday, December 11, 2009

Written by OLCV Communications Director Toby Van Fleet

Ask Evann Remington about her favorite spot in Oregon and you’ll get a list of stories told in the way one shares the best childhood memories:
Fast-talking stream of consciousness loaded with detail—and all smiles. Evan is unequivocal about her love of the Rogue River, where she spent summer months as a kid camping with her immediate and extended families. Arrivals to the camp would have to call down the canyon to be collected by boat. They built a sauna. “We had a lot of time,” says Evann. “We were able to do some really creative things.”
Maybe that glorious time on the Rogue is what instilled her sense of environmental stewardship that now seems to inform her life decisions. Two and a half years ago, Evann, 29, launched her own business, Organic Fresh Fingers, in Salem, where she grew up.
Evann says that some of the rhetoric you hear from the business community might lead you to believe that you can’t create jobs, strengthen the economy and take care of the environment at the same time. “But,” she says, “We’ve been able to show that you absolutely can.”
And now Evann is signing up for more work. Volunteer work. As a steering committee member for Marion County’s newly re-formed OLCV chapter. Through her work with the OLCV Marion County chapter, which is on the precipice of some important local elections in 2010—including Salem Mayor—Evann hopes she can help to get other businesses on board with considering social and environmental impacts as part of their bottom line.
“I’m actually really having a lot of fun,” she says, adding that the steering committee is full of some pretty great—and fun—folks.
Work is good. Fun is better. And while the memories of the Rogue may be informing Evann’s environmental values, looking ahead is what’s motivating her. “I’ve got a three-year-old,” says Evann. “I’m really concerned about what the future’s going to look like for her.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The calm after the storm.....

Well, obviously it being two months since my last post, we have been busy. The Fresh N' Local meal program is going great. All new schools and daycares are up and running and the children are loving their new healthy lunch program. We have many new and exciting program changes that will be implemented for the new year. More choice, you asked for we are working away on a system that will provide the same great Organic Fresh Fingers entrees and allow more flexibility in our customized menuing process. Thank you for an amazing start to a wonderful school year!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A buzz is in the air!

With so many new schools beginning the Fresh N' Local meal program in September - the Organic Fresh Fingers team is running around down right gitty. Preparing to increase meal production by 10 times - the heat is on. It is nothing we can't handle though! I apologize to those schools who I had to turn down this fall. Please check back with us after the first of the year as we should be adding some new spaces for the Fresh N' Local meal program. In the meantime, we are all set to offer excellent customer service to our existing customers! Thank you for your business!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fresh N' Local is catching on!

With 25 schools and daycares in Salem and Portland now using the Fresh N' Local meal program, Organic Fresh Fingers is now helping 5,000 kids a day eat fresh, local, natural and organic food!

We are so proud to have such a positive impact on the health of Oregon's children - thank you!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Food Inc. premiers tonight at Salem Cinema

Go to Salem Cinema tonight at 6:00 p.m. for the first screening of Food, Inc. followed by a lively conversation with people involved in the local, sustainable food movement. See you there!

Salem Cinema: 1127 Broadway NE, Salem, Oregon 97301

Keeping Kids Healthy by Eating Local and Unprocessed Food, by Colin Beavan

Keeping kids healthy by eating local and unprocessed food
A big part of the No Impact project was to eat only local, seasonal, unpackaged food. That meant, basically, lots of fresh vegetables. Michelle and I both lost a lot of weight.
As though to prove how good eating a local-food diet is for kids, too, BusinessWeek writer Cathy Arnst has posted a story, which comes from the processed food end of things, called "How Mac 'n' Chees Is Like a Cigarette." She writes:
Two thirds of adults are considered overweight or obese, as is one out of every three children under age 18. Those numbers have been rising steadily since the 1980s, when the average weight took a dramatic spike upwards for all races, age groups and genders. For example, in 1960 women aged 20 to 29 weighed an average of 128 pounds. By 2000 the average weight had jumped to 157. Our national weight gain is not, as many people assume, because we are far less active; studies have found little difference in energy expended now than in the 1950s. It is because we are eating far, far more calories than ever before, in the form of soda, junk food, sweets, fat and salt laden meals, and huge portions. We have become addicted to food, and that addiction starts in very early childhood. Kessler [author of the new book The End of Overeating] lays out how sugar, fat and salt stimulates the reward centers of the brain in much the same way as cigarettes, alcohol and illicit drugs. By eating food that is extremely palatable, we keep wanting more, whether or not we are hungry. Since highly palatable junk food is socially acceptable, and often cheaper than the healthy stuff, we keep going back for more. The food industry knows this better than anyone. Kessler quotes an industry consultant who says that food manufacturers try to hit the “three points of the compass”: Sugar, fat and salt make a food compelling, said the consultant. They make it indulgent. They make it high in hedonic value, which gives us pleasure. “Do you design food specifically to be highly hedonic,” I asked. “Oh, absolutely,” he replied without a moment’s hesitation. “We try to bring as much of that into the equation as possible.
Here's the good news about local eating. None of the farmers I talk to at the farmers' market try to jam their food with salt, fat or sugar to get my little Isabella addicted.
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Posted by Colin Beavan aka No Impact Man at 03:00 AM in Local food only

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Welcome Holy Family Catholic School!

The newest addition to the Fresh N' Local meal program! Holy Family Catholic begins serving fresh, local, natural & organic lunches in the fall. We are so excited to serve such a wonderful school!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Welecome New Customers: Morning Glory Daycare and The Emerson Charter School

We are thrilled to begin serving our newest customers! The Fresh N' Local spring menu is out and delicious.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stephenson Family Fitness Night!

Join Organic Fresh Fingers and many others at this free event!

May 14th
(rain back up date May 26th)
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Stephenson Elementary School
2627 SW Stephenson St - Portland, OR 97219

Meet former Trail Blazer and 17 year NBA superstar JEROME KERSEY, try healthy delicious snacks and many awesome fitness stations!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Come see Organic Fresh Fingers at the YMCA Healthy Kids Day!

YMCA Healthy Kids Day
Saturday, April 18, 2009
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
YMCA - Downtown Salem, Oregon

Bring the kids and join over 300 other families for this fun filled event. Play games, meet kid friendly businesses and try samples of our Fresh N' Local foods!

Welcome Molalla River Academy Charter School!

We are so excited to serve our newest customer, Molalla River Academy Charter School! The school will begin serving the FRESH N' LOCAL meal program in the 2009-2010 school year. The school also plans to have a garden and work hard to implement strategies to eliminate waste around meal times and Organic Fresh Fingers will be there to support them in their efforts. Check out this amazing school!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Program offers kids healthful food choices - Statesman Journal

Program offers kids healthful food choices
Jeanine Stice
April 16, 2009
Last week the news hit, "1 in 5 preschoolers is obese, study says."
This should come as no surprise to pediatricians. They've seen the overweight preschoolers in their exam rooms. They didn't need another study to tell them many are off the chart when it comes to their body mass index.
The great thing about a child's body mass index is they have time and growth in their favor. Many times by simply maintaining their weight, a child's height will increase and they are no longer classified as overweight.
Slowing their weight gain is key. Families who've successfully supported their child's efforts at weight maintenance frequently benefit from the coordinated and combined efforts of pediatricians, public health nurses and WIC dietitians, as well as having the school environments in sync with the recommendations.
Through these efforts families learn to live healthier lives. They play more and watch television less. They quit offering Kool-Aid or sports drinks and begin offering water. They learn which foods are more nutrient rich than others and what to order when eating at a fast-food restaurant. They cut back on the amount of fat used to prepare family meals and offer at least two types of vegetables at the meal.
If the child is fortunate, their school food environment further supports these changes. It's estimated children consume 35 percent of their daily food intake at school, more if they are also relying on the school to feed them breakfast. What's on school menus matter.
Here in the Mid-Valley, preschoolers participating in Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency Head Start program enjoy menus in line with fighting pediatric obesity.
Food Service Supervisor Connie Davidson has worked hard creating meals that are low in added sugar and saturated fat that rely in part on USDA funds.
Lunch menus include vegetarian chili with cheese, cornbread, peaches with yogurt and nonfat milk, or beef stir fry, yakisoba noodles, Mandarin oranges, nonfat milk. Breakfast menus offer oatmeal, apple slices, and nonfat milk, or muffin, Oregon berry mix and nonfat milk. Chocolate milk is not an option, and cheeseburgers, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets aren't offered often.
A poster at one site shows the impact these menus can have on a child's palate. Kids listed their favorite foods on the poster. Believe it or not, they included foods such as broccoli, chicken, yogurt, banana, peaches, apples and rice. In addition the menus are well received by parents and staff.
Another example of school menus in line with the battle against pediatric obesity are those created by Evan Remington, president of Salem-based Organic Fresh Fingers for Trillium Charter School in Portland. Her menus include options like, Hummus Wrap, Organic Fruit & Organic Vegetable, and Exciting Eggplant Parmesan, Organic Fruit & Organic Vegetable. According to the school's parent newsletter, contracting with Organic Fresh Fingers as part of the pilot Farm to School program has reduced food waste by 50 percent. Kids really are eating eggplant and hummus when it's not up against pizza and chicken nuggets on the menu.
Unfortunately not all school environments provide these types of menus. Some offer traditional "junk" food such as cheeseburgers, cheese nachos, pizza and chicken nuggets as frequently as 25 times in 22 days.
Parents of preschoolers want to know what they need to do to raise healthy kids. Many are trying to do the right thing and seek out the support they need to improve their child's health. School menus should support their efforts.
The latest stats on preschool obesity make this all the more urgent.
Jeanine Stice writes about healthy living in the Mid-Valley. She is a registered dietitian employed by Nutrition Etcetera, is a member of the Oregon Dietetic Association and holds an Adult Weight Management certification. She can be reached at

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

School Nutrition Association Press Release

Report: More Children Eating Healthy School Meals During Economic DownturnMore than 79% of School Districts Report an Increase in the Number of Free School Lunches Served
ALEXANDRIA, Va., (December 11, 2008) – High unemployment rates and families’ proactive efforts to save money have resulted in significantly more students eating lunch at school. According to Saved by the Lunch Bell: As Economy Sinks, School Nutrition Program Participation Rises, a report released today by the School Nutrition Association, nationwide an average of 425,000 more students are participating in free and reduced school lunch programs. More than three quarters of districts surveyed reported an increase in free school lunches provided, meaning the effects are being felt in districts across the country. Because the school-based child nutrition programs are entitlement programs, federal reimbursements will be provided to schools for each meal served; however, the amount of reimbursement provided continues to fall short of the actual costs associated with producing each school meal.
The survey of over 130 school nutrition directors from 38 states found that 79% of districts saw an increase in the number of free lunches served while nearly 65% saw an increase in the number of reduced price lunches served over last year. Participation by students paying the full price for school lunch decreased in 48% of districts, reflecting a potential shift in the economic status of many American families. Almost 60% of survey respondents reported an overall increase in National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participation, with over 69% reporting an increase in participation in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) in spite of a slight decline in school enrollment this school year compared to last school year.
While the report is another indicator of grim economic news, SNA president Dr. Katie Wilson, SNS, emphasized that, “this year, when hunger is more common, more students are able to eat a balanced, nutritious meal at school.” Meals served under the NSLP must meet nutrition guidelines based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, therefore no more than 30% of calories can come from fat and less than 10% from saturated fat. School lunches provide one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium and calories over the course of one week of menus. Students who eat school lunches consume fewer calories from fat than students who bring lunch from home, according to research conducted by Dr. Alice Jo Rainville of Eastern Michigan University. Additionally, school lunches contain three times as many dairy products, twice as much fruit and seven times the vegetable amounts compared to lunches from home.
As school nutrition professionals feed the increasing number of students participating, 88% of school nutrition directors reported this past August that the NSLP reimbursement of $2.57 per free lunch served was not sufficient for their program to cover the costs of producing a meal. Based on an estimated average cost to prepare a school lunch (including labor, food and other inputs) of about $2.92, and revenue of anywhere from $2.52 to $2.77 to offset that cost (from federal reimbursements, commodity entitlement and the average price paid for a school lunch) school nutrition programs are experiencing a potential loss of at least $4.5 million per school day based on 30 million school lunches provided. School nutrition directors continue to call on Congress to enact legislation, through an economic stimulus package or child nutrition reauthorization, that would provide an adequate meal reimbursement to ensure nutritious school meals continue to be provided to children.
Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the National School Lunch Program. Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents. During the current school year, 130% of the poverty level is $27,560 for a family of four; 185% is $39,220). Children from families with incomes over 185% of poverty pay a full price, though their meals are still subsidized to some extent. Local school boards generally set their own prices for full-price (paid) meals, with the national average at $2.08 after many districts raised their meal prices earlier this year. Paid school lunch still represents a bargain when compared to the national average cost to prepare a lunch from home, estimated to be $3.41. School nutrition programs are required to operate their meal services as non-profit programs.
The School Nutrition Association is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

Eat Your Vegetables: Preschoolers Love Vegetables With Catchy Names Like 'X-Ray Vision Carrots' And 'Tomato Bursts'

ScienceDaily (Mar. 4, 2009) — Do you have a picky preschooler who's avoiding their vegetables? A new Cornell University study shows that giving vegetables catchy new names – like X-Ray Vision Carrots and Tomato Bursts – left preschoolers asking for more.
See also:
Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Plants & Animals

Square foot gardening
South Beach diet
When 186 four-year olds were given carrots called "X-ray Vision Carrots" ate nearly twice as much as they did on the lunch days when they were simply labeled as "carrots." The Robert Wood Johnson-funded study also showed the influence of these names might persist. Children continued to eat about 50% more carrots even on the days when they were no longer labeled. The new findings were presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the School Nutrition Association in Washington DC.
"Cool names can make for cool foods," says lead author Brian Wansink. "Whether it be 'power peas' or 'dinosaur broccoli trees,' giving a food a fun name makes kids think it will be more fun to eat. And it seems to keep working – even the next day," said Wansink.
Similar results have been found with adults. A restaurant study showed that when the Seafood Filet was changed to "Succulent Italian Seafood Filet," sales increased by 28% and taste rating increased by 12%. "Same food, but different expectations, and a different experience," said Wansink, author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Eat More Than We Think."
Although the study was conducted in pre-schools, the researchers believe the same naming tricks can work with children. "I've been using this with my kids," said researcher Collin Payne, "Whatever sparks their imagination seems to spark their appetite."
Adapted from materials provided by Cornell Food & Brand Lab, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Welcome Heartsong Child Care - our newest customer!

We are so excited to be serving HeartSong Child Care in Tigard. I had a wonderful time meeting the children of this wonderful in-home daycare yesterday. Congratulations to Kathleena for her commitment to feeding her kids fresh, local, natural & organic food! FRESH N' LOCAL meal program: The better way to feed your kids!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blanchet Catholic School!

We are so happy to be serving Blanchet Catholic School the last week in June. We will be seeing how the kids at Blanchet like Fresh, Local, Natural & Organic food! We will keep you posted, if the kids love the food, they will be receiving it everyday starting next school year!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Economic Impact Analysis of Pilot Program Shows a Nearly 2 to 1 Multiplier for Every Dollar Invested in Local Food for the Lunchroom

Economic Impact Analysis of Pilot Program Shows a Nearly 2-to-1 Multiplier for Every Dollar Invested in Local Food for the Lunchroom
PORTLAND, Ore., March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- As state lawmakers search for ways to immediately stimulate Oregon's malnourished economy, a new economic impact analysis proves that investing in locally produced foods for the school lunchroom fortifies the state's economy with dollars previously spent elsewhere.
A preliminary analysis of the impact of investing school food dollars in the local food economy was released today by Ecotrust. The analysis was conducted as part of a rigorous review of the local buying practices currently underway in two public school districts in Oregon, Gervais and Portland, where school foodservice directors are using a philanthropic investment made by the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund at the Northwest Health Foundation to test the impact of proposed "farm to school" policies currently being debated in the Oregon Legislature.
Much like the legislation currently under consideration, the Kaiser Permanente grant allocates funds on a per meal basis (seven cents per lunch served) to a combined total of 91 schools in Gervais and Portland for the express purpose of buying more Oregon grown, processed and manufactured food for the lunchroom. Early results indicate that over a 14 week time period (mid Sept. - Dec. 2008), the two districts received $66,193 in Kaiser Permanente grant funds. Those funds, in turn, catalyzed $225,869 in local purchasing.
The data reveal three key findings. First, as researchers predicted, a small amount of money can leverage much greater investment in local purchasing, as the Kaiser Permanente grant dollars encouraged a 72 percent increased investment in local foods. Second, an input-output analysis was used to estimate the economic benefits of these purchases to the Oregon economy and shows that for every food dollar spent locally by the two school districts, an additional 87 cents was spent in Oregon, generating a multiplier of 1.87 for farm to school spending. Finally, research confirms that the economic benefits of investments made in the Oregon agricultural community trigger successive spending in almost every sector of the Oregon economy. The analysis revealed that dollars spent in Oregon agriculture reverberated into 401 of 409 of the state's economic sectors. Researchers will continue to study the effects of local buying practices throughout the remainder of the school year, but believe data from the first three months of the pilot project provide early signs of success.
"This research confirms that farm to school programs are a viable investment that can make an immediate impact on nearly every sector of our state's economy," said Deborah Kane, vice president of the Food and Farms program for Ecotrust. "We knew the effort would likely benefit the Oregon agricultural community, and of course Oregon's children. We were encouraged to learn that the benefits extend far beyond the most obvious."
The study has identified other benefits as well. In Gervais, Kaiser Permanente grant dollars allowed schools to offer a greater variety of fresh fruits and vegetables than had been served in the prior year. Increased demand for local products expanded market opportunities for more than two dozen Oregon farmers, food processors and manufacturers. In Portland, community partnerships blossomed to support the changes taking place in the cafeteria, with area grocery stores championing school food improvements as part of the grant. And once schools introduced a new menu item, such as a locally produced salsa, the demand and popularity of the product grew and it did not go away after a single serving.
"The extra investment in our lunch program gave us tremendous purchasing power, so that across the board, products that we had been buying outside of Oregon - apples, beef, chili, cheese, corn - we were able to source locally," said Kristy Obbink, nutrition services director, Portland Public Schools District. "This demonstrates how we can take a few cents and sprinkle it over the entire school meal and drive way more money into the Oregon economy."
As the farm to school pilot program continues in two districts, interest and momentum for sourcing local in the lunchroom is growing statewide as indicated in a recent poll of Oregon foodservice directors conducted by Ecotrust. From Coos Bay to Milton-Freewater, from Woodburn to Medford, survey participants self-reported that if given an additional 15 cents per for every lunch served in their district, they would seek out Oregon grown, processed or manufactured products, with a particular interest in fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, dairy products, beef and bakery products. Of those districts that completed the survey, 88 percent were currently buying some local products for the lunch room, but reported that the number one barrier to purchasing more local products is limited funds.
HB 2800 Would Fund Farm to School Statewide and Generate Revenue to the State
On the heels of the positive results of the study, Ecotrust and partners, is working with State Representatives Tina Kotek (D - North/Northeast Portland) and Brian Clem (D - Salem) to introduce a bill this legislative session (HB 2800) to fund ongoing farm to school efforts statewide. HB 2800 builds upon the existing farm to school infrastructure, which was cast in place during the 2007 legislative session and 2008 special session, and requests $22.6 million during the 2009 fiscal biennium, an investment that organizers forecast will provide a two-fold return in economic impact statewide.
"Given the current economic climate and the Legislature's focus on stimulating Oregon's economy, funding farm to school programs in the state is a risk-free investment and proven to return more dollars to the local economy and help shore up agricultural and food-related jobs," said Clem.
For every meal served, HB 2800 proposes to provide state funding in the amounts of seven cents per breakfast and 15 cents per lunch so that school districts can invest in Oregon grown, processed and manufactured foods for use in school cafeterias. In order for school districts to access state funds made available by HB 2800 to support local purchases, districts must first demonstrate a one-to-one-match using federal funds through the USDA's National School Lunch and Breakfast program. By leveraging existing federal dollars, the economic impact on Oregon's agriculture and food manufacturing sectors will be compounded. The bill also provides grant funds to support agriculture- and food-based curriculum and garden-based education.
About Ecotrust
Ecotrust's mission is to inspire fresh thinking that creates social equity, economic opportunity, and environmental well-being. Over nearly 20 years, Ecotrust has converted $60 million in grants into more than $300 million in capital for local people, businesses, and organizations from Alaska to California. Ecotrust is a new kind of organization, one that integrates public and private purpose and for-profit and non-profit structures. Ecotrust's many innovations include co-founding the world's first environmental bank, starting the world's first ecosystem investment fund, creating a range of programs in fisheries, forestry, food, farms and children's health, and developing new scientific and information tools to improve social, economic and environmental decision-making. Ecotrust works locally in ways that promise hope abroad, and it honors and incorporates the wisdom of native and first nation knowledge in its work. More on the Web at
Ecotrust's Food and Farms program endeavors to make sustainability the underlying value of the mainstream food system; the norm, not the exception. In close collaboration with a diverse coalition of project partners, Ecotrust works on a wide-range of initiatives to promote "farm to school" programs that enable schools to feature locally sourced products in their cafeterias, incorporate nutrition-based curriculum in all academic disciplines, and provide students with experiential agriculture and food-based learning opportunities, from farm visits to gardening, cooking, composting, and recycling. Our approach is multifaceted and includes: combating obesity, hunger, and global climate change; supporting Pacific Northwest farmers and food processors, both big and small; and enhancing regional economic development and community food security. We work at the local, state, and regional levels.
About the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund
The Kaiser Permanente Community Fund (KPCF) at Northwest Health Foundation was established in late 2004 to advance the health of the communities served by Kaiser Permanente Northwest. The Fund intends to achieve this goal by addressing those factors in the social, policy, and physical environment that impact community health. Often referred to as the social determinants of health, these factors have been shown to play a major role in the development of health disparities based on race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status.
SOURCE Ecotrust

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Memo fron Northwest Food Processors Association President: SUPPORT LOCAL FOOD PROCESSORS and INCREASE JOBS IN OREGON

March 18, 2009
Re: Video Highlights Importance of Oregon Food Processors to State Economy – Only Manufacturing Sector to Create Jobs in 2008
In the midst of a global downturn financial analysts have called the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Oregon’s food processing industry was the one bright spot in WorkSource Oregon’s gloomy 2008 Job Report.
In 2008, food manufacturing added 1,800 jobs statewide, a 7.9 percent increase – at a time when the manufacturing sector as a whole showed an 8.3 percent decline. Oregon wood product manufacturing lost 4,700 jobs in 2008, semiconductor and electronic component manufacturing lost 2,400 jobs and transportation equipment manufacturing lost 4,100 jobs, according to WorkSource Oregon’s year-end report. The state as a whole shed more than 58,000 non-farm jobs in 2008, a 3.4 percent decrease.
Food processing was the only manufacturing sector in Oregon to show positive employment gain in 2008, the Oregon Employment Department reported.
What factors are responsible for the food processing industry’s strong showing? In part, it’s because during challenging economic times, consumers tend to focus spending on basic goods and services. But the state can also thank a forward-thinking Legislature, which, in 2006, provided funding for Northwest Food Processors Innovation Productivity Center (IPC), a collaborative effort to increase competitiveness and innovation for Oregon’s food processing industry.
A new video highlights the crucial importance of the food processing industry to Oregon’s economy, as well as IPC’s innovation efforts: “Everybody Must Eat: Sustaining Oregon’s Food Processing Industry.” To view the video, go to, or email NWFPA at
With $3.4 billion in annual revenues, 18,000 workers, a $542 million annual payroll and a heritage that spans more than 150 years, food processing is Oregon’s third-largest industry, trailing only high-tech and forest products in its statewide economic impact.
Organized in 1914, Northwest Food Processors Association (NWFPA) serves as an advocate for members’ interests and a resource for enhancing their competitive capabilities. NWFPA provides services to over 450 member companies. IPC is a non-profit funded by the Oregon Legislature to help shape the future of the food industry by: enhancing organizational productivity, enabling innovation, training industry leaders of today and tomorrow, and helping companies use all of the best available resources. IPC is part of the Oregon Innovation Plan and is a subsidiary organization of the NWFPA.

David Zepponi, PresidentNorthwest Food Processors Association
8338 NE Alderwood Road, Suite 160Portland, OR 97220
503/327-2200 Main • 503/327-2208 Direct503/572-6531 Cell

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

4th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference!

How lucky are we, that the 4th Annual National Farm to Cafeteria conference is in Portland! Starting tomorrow - March 19-21 - The DoubleTree Hotel 1000 NE Multnomah Street, Portland, OR 97232-

Conference Schedule

Thursday, March 19
7:00 - 9:30 am
8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Short Courses and Field Trips
1:00 - 6:00 pm
3:00 - 5:00 pm
Opening Plenary: The Voices of Youth
5:00 - 6:00 pm
Poster Session
6:00 - 8:00 pm
Opening Reception
Friday, March 20
7:30 am - 5:00 pm
8:30 - 10:00 am
Plenary: Leading Sustainable Social Change - Working Across Differences
10:00 - 10:30 am
10:30 am - Noon
Regional Meetings/Organizational Meetings
Noon - 1:45 pm
Lunch and Speaker, Katie Wilson
Youth Mentorship Lunch
1:45 - 3:15 pm
Workshop Session 1
3:15 - 3:45 pm
3:45 - 5:15 pm
Workshop Session 2
5:15 - 6:15 pm
Poster Session
6:00 pm
Book Talk with Joel Berg
Dinner on your own
Saturday, March 21
7:30 am - 5:00 pm
8:30 - 10:30 am
Plenary: Building the Foundations of Local Food
10:30 - 10:45 am
10:45 am - Noon
Workshop Session 3: Open Session
Noon - 2:00 pm
Lunch on your own
2:00 - 3:30 pm
Workshop Session 4
3:30 - 4:00 pm
4:00 - 5:30 pm
Workshop Session 5
6:30 - 9:30pm
Reception and Keynote with Joan Dye Gussow

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Organic Fresh Fingers story on popular local news Blog

Natural Oregon News Blog : Check it out to see the whole story and photos!

Taking “Mystery Meat” Out Of School Lunches
Mar 12th, 2009
by Dennis Newman.
From a busy kitchen in Northeast Salem, Evann Remington and her staff are trying to revolutionize what kids eat at school.
Goodbye, “mystery meat”. Say “hello” to organic, local, and sustainable.
It all started when Remington was looking for a daycare center for her young daughter. She wanted a place that served organic lunches and snacks. After not finding any, she started up Organic Fresh Fingers, a company that prepares meals from local, organic foods and delivers them to schools and daycare centers.

V.P. For Product Development Kurt Lucas preparing meals.
At first, Remington was head chef, delivery driver and chief bottle washer. Her customers were a mere handful of daycare facilities. Less than two years later she’s President and CEO of a business with 13 employees, serving up 20,000 organic meals a month, and expects to ring up sales of around $600,000.
Remington says the produce comes from a cooperative of organic farmers across Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington. The cheese and milk comes from an organic dairy near Salem. For her, it’s not just a business but a mission to help build community supported agriculture.
Most of her 25 clients are private schools and daycares. Remington says demand from parents for better quality food is helping her business grow. These private facilities, she says, realize that by serving organic meals it sets them apart from the crowd.

Organic Fresh Fingers Frozen Meals
Getting her meals into public schools is a tougher sell. Portland Public Schools use a burrito filling from Organic Fresh Fingers about every three weeks. Kristy Obbink, Director of Nutrition Services for PPS says price is the main barrier to getting more organic food in school cafeterias. Obbink says Portland has about $1.15 to spend for every meal it serves. A meal from Organic Fresh Fingers can run as high as $2.68.
Not that any of this deters Remington. She hopes increased spending on school nutrition by the Obama Administration will help make organic lunches more affordable. There’s also a bill before the Oregon legislature for a new state subsidy to support school nutrition.
As for the students who eat the meals, Remington says it’s the right of all kids, “to have access to high quality, clean and nutritious food.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New spring menu in the making!!

Organic Fresh Fingers is working on a new spring menu for our school lunch program! Our winter winter menu was a smash hit with the delicious ( and easy to prepare) one dish bakes. Our chef Kurt put together some amazing meals such as, eggplant parmesan, tamale pie and a vegetable lasagna. These dishes quickly became favorites with the kids and the teachers. These meals are packaged in 100% recyclable or reusable trays and have helped facilities cut down on unnecessary waste. We are looking at all the local, seasonal ingredients to create new meals that taste so good, the kids don't realize they are eating healthy. Along with working on creating a line of fresh soups, we are perfecting a kid friendly vegetarian enchilada! Feel free to post or email any ideas for meals using local, fresh ingredients. I will keep you posted on our progress. Thank you!

Monday, March 9, 2009


The Madeleine School is a kindergarten through eighth grade Catholic elementary school in the Irvington/Alameda neighborhood of Portland, Oregon.
For over 95 years, The Madeleine has offered an exceptional values-based education. Thousands of young people have passed through the school doors and emerged with both a solid educational foundation, and a deeper commitment to their faith, families and community.

And NOW - The Madeleine School is working hard to incorporate more fresh, local, natural and organic, nutritious food into their hot lunch program with the help of Organic Fresh Fingers...WAY TO GO!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Organic Fresh Fingers in Sustainable Industries Magazine!

Check out the recent article on Organic Fresh Fingers in Sustainable Business Magazine!

School Meals Key to Better Child Health

Here's a great article on the importance of well-balanced school meals!
How to make sure these are provided in your child's school or daycare? Request Organic Fresh Fingers as your meal provider!

U.S. school meals may be key to better child health

Thursday, December 18, 2008

By Christopher Doering

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Many American children are not eating enough fruit and vegetables and their diet lacks key nutrients, according to a report released on Wednesday that focuses on school food programs as a way to help prevent long-term health problems.

School kids in the United States are getting too many calories from solid fats found in foods such as pizza and hamburgers, and sugars from candy and soda, said the report by the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academies.

"Most Americans, not just children, are not eating as balanced a diet as we want," said Virginia Stallings, a professor at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and chair of the committee that conducted the review.

"There are so few times where we have an opportunity to touch every child's life," she said in an interview.

The Institute of Medicine conducted the review of the country's school breakfast and lunch programs at the request of the U.S. Agriculture Department, which oversees them. School meal programs provide 40 million meals daily and more than half of a student's food and nutrient intake during the school day.

Child nutrition programs, including school lunch and breakfast, are due for reauthorization by Congress in 2009.

Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, has said more emphasis should be put on getting more healthier and fresher foods into school meals.

Tom Vilsack, who was nominated for Secretary of Agriculture by President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday, said the USDA "must place nutrition at the center of all food assistance programs administered by the department."

The 192-page review found children aged 5-18 ate 50 percent or less of the vegetables recommended by the U.S. government's dietary guidelines, and fruit intake was 50 percent or less than the suggested amount for kids 9-18 years old.

Children also consume too much sodium as well as calories from solid fats and added sugars, the report said.

Officials at the USDA are updating the nutrition and meal requirements used for school breakfast and lunch programs, and looked for recommendations from the Institute of Medicine.

Efforts to overhaul school nutrition programs come as obesity among children has been steadily rising.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 13.9 percent of children aged 2 to 5, 18.8 percent of those aged 6 to 11, and more than 17 percent of those 12 to 19 are overweight.

School meals are often better than what kids get on their own or bring from home, but breakfast and lunch programs need to work on reducing fat and sodium, said Jim Weill of the Food Research and Action center, an anti-hunger group.

"School meals are absolutely essential not just to reduce hunger, but to kids' health," Weill said. "Obesity has helped focus attention that school meals should be better."

Reuters Health
Copyright © 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Sales and Marketing Team!

Organic Fresh Fingers is so happy to have put in place a new Sales and Marketing Team. Welcome:

Patrick Ireland - VP of Marketing
Randy Lee - Research and Strategy
Caitlin Horsley - Marketing Associate (sales focus)
Bryce Clemmer - Marketing Associate (research focus)
Sam Hodder - Administrative Support

We are so excited to have such a competent and enthusiastic team!

Chicken in the Yard (C.I.T.Y.) City Council Meeting Tonight in Salem

The group C.I.T.Y. (Chickens In The Yard) is rallying to amend code, with a formal presentation to City Council tonight February 23rd. We should all be there! The amendment has received letters of support from Marion-Polk Foodshare, Oregon Tilth, Willamette University Center for Sustainable Communities, and so on.

SEE YOU ALL TONIGHT- City Hall, 555 Liberty, Room 240!

NON-GMO Shopping Guide

Of course, Organic Fresh Fingers meals in the store all made with NON-GMO ingredients. Here is a non-gmo shopping list with other options

Any certified Organic food is also made with non-gmo ingredients.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New FRESH N' LOCAL Hot Lunch Program!

Exciting news.....Organic Fresh Fingers, Inc. has now partnered with Diva Catering to offer our fresh, local, all natural and organic meals served HOT and FRESH DAILY to schools and daycares! Some of the most exciting schools are struggling to feed healthy, nutritious foods because they simply do not have a kitchen or a lunch room to serve them. As most of you know, Organic Fresh Fingers cooks the homemade food, but we still need the school to heat and serve the food. Well, not any more! For those of you who need a hot lunch delivered daily to your school, we can now serve you! Diva Catering, in Salem, is a veteran catering company (15 years experience) led by Joan Taylor eager to serve Organic Fresh Fingers meals hot to schools in Portland, Salem and everywhere in between. Call us today to find out how to serve fresh, local, nutritious hot lunch at your school!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Free Viewing of "Food Matters" and great film with friends

Hi friends-If you haven't yet seen this film, it's really worth seeing. I'd like to invite you to a free screening at the end of this month at the Straub Environmental Learning Center in Salem. See below for details. I was impressed with this film and I think you'll really enjoy it. Take time for yourself and your health and join us for an informative and social evening!
WHAT: Screening of "Food Matters: Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine"
WHEN: Friday, February 27 07:00 PM
WHERE: Straub Environmental Learning Center 1320 A Street NE Salem, Oregon 97301

HOSTED BY: Northwest Earth Institute’s “Menu for the Future”; course in Salem.
Tickets are FREE. RSVP required.

For more details and to RSVP, please visit:

About the film:
‘Food Matters’ is a hard hitting fast paced look at our current state of health. Despite the billions of dollars of funding and research into new so-called cures we continue to suffer from a raft of chronic ills and every day maladies. Approaching an over toxic and over indulgent population with a continuing onslaught of toxic therapies and nutrient sparse foods is definitely not helping the situation. ‘Food Matters’ seeks to uncover the business of disease and at the same time explore the safe, cheap and effective use of nutrition and supplementation for preventing and often curing the underlying causative aspects of our ills.

In a personal quest of discovery James & Laurentine have set out on an independent mission to uncover the wholesome truth. Having traveled around the globe to speak with the world leaders in nutrition and natural healing, adding in a dash of investigative journalists for spice, the dish is perfectly balanced for a rounded approach at how we should be looking to conventional medicine and nutritional therapy as humanity advances.

The screening must be free of charge where possible however a maximum charge of $5 USD (or equivalent local currency) is permissible where the cost of venue hire has been incurred.

It is permissible to raise money for your screening through any of the following means: - Purchasing copies of Food Matters the DVD at wholesale prices and selling them at the event - Holding a raffle or fundraiser for your group or organization or - Asking for donations after the screening.

Click on the Hosting Materials link below for more details.

To learn more, or find another screening to attend, please visit:

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Phones are Ringing OFF the hook!

The schools and daycare have spoken, everybody is frustrated with the lack of high quality nutritious foods that they are able to serve to their kids and keep an eye on the bottom line. We just received some wonderful input from one of our customers that have tracked enrollment since they started our service and are actually INCREASING enrollment at their private school during this economy. They swear it's because offering Organic Fresh Fingers meals are helping to differentiate their school from the competition. Everyone knows that classroom size and curriculum are VERY important when looking for a school, but parents are increasingly asking the question " What are you doing to promote the health and well being of my child so they are better able to receive their education". Good question.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Private Schools Hit by Economy

Private schools hit by economy
Parents feeling the pinch seek to save on tuition
The News Journal

Margaret Reynolds is pulling two children out of Catholic school and enrolling them in a public charter school next fall.
She would like to give her 13-year-old twins the same education that her 16-year-old is receiving at St. Elizabeth High School in Wilmington, but the finances are too tight.
"I love everything about Catholic education, but I can't afford to have three in Catholic high school. Signing that tuition commitment is too much of a risk," said Reynolds, who stays home with her 3-year-old daughter.
Reynolds said her family can't count on her husband's fluctuating paychecks. He is a mechanic at Porter Automotive Group in Newark.
"Getting your car fixed these days is kind of like a luxury," she said.
Facing the worst recession in a generation, parents across the country are being forced to make painful decisions about private school. Nationwide, private schools have lost 120,000 students this school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The problem could be more acute in the First State, where almost a fifth of Delaware children attend private schools -- one of the highest rates of private-school attendance in the nation. And the issue is affecting a range of schools -- from Greenville's Tatnall School, with its annual high school tuition of $20,000, to the $2,200-a-year Milford Christian School.
"We're not in any vacuum here. We feel the impact of the economy as much as anyone else does," said Mike Morgan, Tatnall's director of communications. Tatnall's endowment is down about 30 percent since last year.
The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington schools, which have annual tuitions ranging from $2,500 to $8,700, could also take a hit. The diocese has closed three schools since 2007 because of declining enrollments.
In Delaware, 11,350 of the state's 23,713 private-school students attend Catholic schools. That number is rapidly declining while enrollment in nonreligious schools is remaining fairly steady.
"There's a great concern about the economy. A number of our families have been displaced and are afraid they won't be able to return next year," said Cathy Weaver, diocesan superintendent. "Families of all income levels are feeling the pinch."
Public school districts -- especially those in New Castle County, where private-school attendance is most concentrated -- are bracing for a potential influx of students during a time the state is facing a $606 million shortfall.
"When these students come back to us from private schools, there is a budget impact," said Red Clay Consolidated School District Superintendent Robert Andrzejewski. "We have to be careful and set aside [money]."
About 5,800 students who live in Red Clay's boundaries attend private school -- more than any other district in the state.
Newly confirmed state Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery said she will consider the possible arrival of private-school students as she tackles a proposed $53.4 million cut to the state's education budget.
Finding the best 'free' fit
Delaware has a long tradition of private schools.
Some of the 150 schools are centered around religious doctrine, others were built in the early 20th century by the state's elite.
But there's more that factors into why the First State has so many private schools.
The perception that public schools offer a subpar education pushes many parents toward private schools with tuitions ranging from $2,200 to $25,000.
Desegregation and busing also played a role.
In 1978, a federal court ordered New Castle County schools to desegregate, busing Wilmington students into the suburbs and suburban students into the city. Private-school enrollment skyrocketed from 12 percent in 1971 to 21 percent in 1982.
For parents who find themselves not able to afford private school, the trick now is to find the best, "free" fit for their children. Many look to charter schools, gifted programs and "choicing" their children into schools with better reputations.
For her twins, who attend Saint Matthew School near Woodcrest, Reynolds chose the Delaware Military Academy, a charter school near Newport that has a "superior" state rating.
"It's similar to a Catholic high school because the class sizes are small and the students receive more one-on-one attention," she said.
Val Whiting is hoping to find a rigorous curriculum for her 7-year-old son, Joseph Raymond, in the state's public schools that is similar to what he is receiving at Elementary Workshop, a pre-kindergarten-through-sixth grade Montessori school in Wilmington. Whiting said she's pulling him out of the $9,000-a-year school in part because of financial constraints but also because she's "fed up paying tuition.
"There has to be great free education out there for my child ... but I don't have confidence in the public school system in Delaware," said Whiting, who owns and operates a fitness boot camp in Wilmington called Game Shape. "If we had unlimited funds, he'd be at Elementary Workshop forever."
Whiting has applied to Brandywine School District's gifted program at Mount Pleasant Elementary School near Penny Hill and Odyssey Charter School in Wilmington. She has also filled out choice applications for Brandywine's Lombardy Elementary in Brandywine Hundred and Red Clay's Brandywine Springs School near Mill Creek.
"I'm trying to get the best possible option for my child," said Whiting, who lives in the Christina School District.
Catholic schools hit hard
Recessions inevitably affect private schools.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, private schools lost nearly half a million students after recessions in the early 1980s. Even after the relatively brief 1990 recession, private schools lost 33,000 students. They lost more than 200,000 students after the recession triggered by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
While 120,000 students have been lost this year, further reductions are expected this spring when parents who paid tuition for the current school year before the financial meltdown decide whether to re-enroll their children for next academic year. Many private schools re-enrollment contracts will be completed in the next couple months.
The hardest hit may be Catholic schools, which educate 40 percent of private-school students nationwide. Catholic enrollment has been dropping for decades, and hundreds of schools have closed.
A drop in student enrollment has forced the Diocese of Wilmington, which oversees 21 schools in Delaware, to merge and close several schools. Last year, St. Thomas the Apostle School closed, and Holy Rosary merged with St. Helena School to form a new school, Pope John Paul II. In 2007, St. Hedwig's merged with St. Matthew School.
Last spring, the diocese announced a $6 million campaign to raise endowment funds for tuition assistance. The campaign, called Vision for the Future 2008, is expected to provide an additional $300,000 yearly in tuition assistance. The new fund will be added to the existing Vision for the Future Education Fund, established in the early 1990s, which has provided more than $5.8 million in tuition assistance.
"There really is an important role for Catholic education in our community, and our responsibility is to see that it continues," said Weaver, diocese superintendent.
Some parishioners believe the diocese should form more regional schools such as Christ the Teacher, which is supported by four parishes instead of one. Christ the Teacher, which opened in 2002, has had a waiting list for several years.
"Our situation at Christ the Teacher is an extremely blessed one. There has been a strong demand for the school since it opened," said Dave Carey, whose three children attend the K-8 school. "I was on a waiting list for two years."
Finding a balance
For smaller private schools, the slightest decline in enrollment can be catastrophic.
If five of 65 students don't return in the fall, the budget will take a hit, said McCrae Harrison, director of Elementary Workshop.
"Any loss in families is disruptive to us," she said. "We could retool and downsize, but you worry about keeping your staff who are part of the family. And you worry about the quality of the program because you may not have the tuition to support specific programs. We are already a pretty bare-boned operation here with pretty low tuition."
Even when the economy improves, private schools will still have work to do, Harrison said.
"You have to find your clientele and build your student base back up to where it was, which takes a while. So it's not going to be over for us once the economic downturn is over," she said.
Greenwood Mennonite School's enrollment dropped from 282 students in 2005 to 195 this year. Assistant Principal Mickey Chaffinch anticipates a further decline in the fall.
When the school decided to cut recess aides and tutors from its budget, parents volunteered to fill those positions. When the $4,100-a-year K-12 school's janitor was facing a pay cut, an anonymous community member offered to pay half the salary. And when the school was going to have to hold off opening a computer program, a parent donated $10,000.
"It's been a year where there's been so many challenges, but the way people have stepped up to help our school has been amazing," Chaffinch said.
Some schools are not increasing tuition next year and are even decreasing tuition in certain grades.
Caravel Academy in Bear lowered tuition for preschool and kindergarten, said Head of School Donald Keister.
Milford Christian School will not be increasing its tuition.
"I think that [increasing tuition] would be shooting myself in the foot. We have to make things work without increasing tuition," said Principal David Perdue
About 20 percent of students receive financial aid at both Tatnall and Wilmington Friends School -- Delaware's oldest private school with a tuition ranging from $10,575 to $19,775.
"We are seeing more requests from people who had not applied for financial aid in the past. They may be facing a job loss or a pay cut or no raise or maybe some of their investments have taken a hit during all this," said Morgan, Tatnall's spokesman. "There's no way anyone is escaping this. These are tough times."
While Tatnall officials will not know their final enrollment for next year until later this spring, the preschool-through-12th grade school has received more new applications than it had this time last year.
"In some cases, education is a priority for a lot of parents, so they will certainly let other things go before their kids' education," Morgan said.
One of those parents is Kelly Furman.
After touring the public and private schools in Wilmington, Furman and her husband, who both work in Delaware's banking industry, chose to send their two children to Elementary Workshop because of the Montessori teaching method.
"It's so nurturing and warm. My children love to learn now," Furman said.
Furman said they would sell a car and cancel their summer vacation before pulling their children out of Elementary Workshop.
"We feel so strongly about where our children go to school that tuition will be one of the last things to go," she said. "I never thought I'd pay more for my children's elementary education than I paid for my own college education, but that's how important I think it is."

Private Schools Feel the Pinch Amid Recession

Private Schools Feel the Pinch Amid Recession
Mary Pilon
Tuesday January 27, 2009, 2:11 am EST

Trinity Episcopal School survived Hurricane Ike last fall. But then another storm hit -- the economy.
The Galveston, Texas, school, where tuition is between $5,000 and $8,000 a year, has seen its enrollment drop 12%, says , the head of the school. Many parents of its students were among the 3,000 workers laid off by the area's largest employer, the University of Texas Medical Branch. At the end of 2008, the school's endowment was $800,000, down about 20% from July.
The school has ramped up donation efforts through its Web site, and held car washes and bake sales. It stopped using substitute teachers -- other staff members now step in when a teacher is out sick. "Our school will survive, but it will take years to recover," Mr. Dearman says.
Trinity Episcopal School is one of many kindergarten-through-12th-grade private schools caught in the middle of an economic tempest: anemic endowments, dwindling donations, financially strapped parents slashing tuition from the family budget, and an exodus to suburbs with more appealing public schools where costs are lower.
"The discourse has shifting from sustainability to survivability," says , a spokeswoman for the National Association of Independent Schools.
The association also has seen more applications from families seeking financial aid. The association processed 146,000 of the School and Service for Financial Aid forms for the 2007-2008 academic year, up from 140,000 the year before. It anticipates the number will climb as parents begin to receive their letters of commitment for the 2009-2010 school year in coming weeks.
Parents also are donating less to private schools. of Sherman Oaks, Calif., pays $34,000 in tuition to send her 7-year-old and 10-year-old to the Wesley School in North Hollywood. She sees that expense as "a non-negotiable part of the family budget."
Not so for her charitable contributions to the school. Ms. Gottlieb, concerned about the general outlook of the economy, has cut her donations this year to just a fifth of what she gave last year. "It's not because I believe in the school less; it's just what we could afford to do. And I know others are doing the same," says Ms. Gottlieb, whose husband is a movie-industry executive.
To help with the tuition bill, the Gottlieb family has scaled down vacations, opting for camping trips. She ditched her larger car for one that guzzles less gasoline. Ms. Gottlieb started to do her own gardening and handiwork around the house and plans to re-enter the work force.
Schools are feeling the squeeze in their budgets. Many are opting for pot-luck dinners for staff and PTA meetings in lieu of catered events. More endowment mailers are being sent out electronically rather than on paper.
At Phoenix Country Day School, where annual tuition ranges from about $16,000 to $21,000, "airplane portions" of pretzels have replaced muffins and cookies at staff meetings. Seven of the school's administrative employees have moved into a new office: a "1960s-era former locker room made of corrugated metal and located in the maintenance area," says , a spokeswoman for the school.
The Phoenix Country Day School's endowment, like many other portfolios, fell about 30%, to $13 million from $17 million, says , the head of school. "Independent schools are challenged at a time like this," he says. "That will make us be very thoughtful on how we spend it."
Even though the school has been pounded by a grim local housing market and job losses, Mr. Campbell refuses to cut programs. The school has curbed some routine spending, and Mr. Campbell has pulled in staff members one by one to assess their talents. "I discovered a potential softball coach in the administration," Mr. Campbell says. "I had no idea."
Private schools in areas particularly hard hit by the economic downturn are also facing changes. Some children of recently laid-off Wall Street employees in the New York City area and those in the auto-making hub Detroit have been pulled from schools or reneged on contracts for the 2009-2010 school year.
Cornerstone Schools in Detroit doesn't have an endowment, but relies heavily on corporate and individual donations to subsidize the $3,500 tuition. "Some parents can't afford that," says , the founding chairman and CEO of the schools. In 2007-2008, the school raised $7 million in fund-raising events, Mr. Durant says. This year, he estimates donations will be down about 30%.
Mr. Durant is looking into corporate donors outside of the Detroit area and possible "hybrid" programs with other schools to help alleviate costs.
"Nobody likes to have to deal with these difficult circumstances," he says.
And as if those challenges weren't enough, some private schools were hit by 's alleged Ponzi scheme. Ramaz School in New York City lost $6 million through Madoff investments, according to a letter sent to students and parents. The administrators at SAR Academy in Riverdale, N.Y., also sent out a letter, notifying families that a third of its $3.7 million endowment was lost through Madoff investments.
One option for many families is schlepping to the suburbs, where the public schools are often more highly rated than in cities. Montgomery County School District, which serves Washington, D.C., suburbs Bethesda, Rockville and Silver Spring, Md., has seen an "unexpected" spike in public-school enrollment this year, according to , operations manager with the school district. This year, it received 1,500 new students and anticipates an additional 1,300 for 2009-2010, for a total of 139,000 students. Many of the new students previously attended private schools, Mr. Cram says.
Some parents are opting for loans to help fill the financial-aid gap, says Ms. McGovern of the National Association of Independent Schools. She's also hearing stories of grandparents stepping in to help pay tuition bills.
The future remains uncertain, even for those who are able to pay for private school. The daughter of receives almost $8,630 in scholarships to cover the cost of her education at Cristo Rey High School in Sacramento, Calif. But it will be difficult for the family to pay the tuition for a younger son, who hopes to attend the Catholic school next year as a freshman. Ms. Aviles says she prefers the private school, concerned about gang violence in public schools nearby.
To supplement its scholarship fund, Cristo Rey has ramped up its grant-writing efforts to reach a one-year fund-raising goal of $1.5 million by the end of June. "We still have a long ways to go," says , an administrator at Cristo Ray.
In September, the home the Aviles bought in 1997 went into foreclosure. Since then, Ms. Aviles has found work part-time cleaning hotel rooms and her husband is putting in overtime as a plumber. They struggle to keep up with the $55-a-month tuition payments.
"The economic situation is hard," she says. "But we want the best for our kids."
Write to Mary Pilon at

Much of High Fructose Corn Syrup Contaminated with Mercury, New Study Finds

Monday, January 26, 2009 Posted by Janelle Sorensen

Mercury was found in nearly 50 percent of tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), according to a new article published today in the scientific journal, Environmental Health. A separate study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) detected mercury in nearly one-third of 55 popular brandname food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient—including products by Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smucker’s.
HFCS use has skyrocketed in recent decades as the sweetener has replaced sugar in many processed foods. HFCS is found in sweetened beverages, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments.
On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS. Consumption by teenagers and other high consumers can be up to 80 percent above average levels.
“Mercury is toxic in all its forms,” said IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D., and a co-author in both studies. “Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply.”
In the Environmental Health article, Dufault et al. found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS. Dufault was working at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when the tests were done in 2005. She and co-authors conclude that possible mercury contamination of food chemicals like HFCS was not common knowledge within the food industry that frequently uses the sweetener. While the FDA had evidence that commercial HFCS was contaminated with mercury four years ago, the agency did not inform consumers, help change industry practice or conduct additional testing.
For its report “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup” IATP sent 55 brand-name foods and beverages containing HFCS as the first or second ingredient to a commercial laboratory to be tested for total mercury. Nearly one in three products tested contained detectable mercury. Mercury was most prevalent in HFCScontaining dairy products, followed by dressings and condiments.
In making HFCS, caustic soda is used, among other things, to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. For decades, HFCS has been made using mercury-grade caustic soda produced in industrial chlorine (chlor-alkali) plants. The use of mercury cells to produce caustic soda can contaminate caustic soda, and ultimately HFCS, with mercury.
“The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury,” said Dr. Wallinga. “The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients.”
While most chlorine plants around the world have switched to newer, cleaner technologies, many still rely on the use of mercury cells. In 2005, 90 percent of chlorine production was mercury-free, but just 40 percent of European production was mercury-free. Four U.S. chlor-alkali plants still rely on mercury cell technology. In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama introduced legislation to force the remaining chlor-alkali plants to phase out mercury cell technology by 2012.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Madeleine Catholic School

We are so excited to be serving this school today. They get to eat Organic Penne Pasta Bake with Mozzarella Cheese, Organic Red Delicious Apples and Organic Baby Carrots with All Natural Ranch Dressing! Luuuuuucky! We cannot wait to hear what children at the Madeleine School have to say about their gourmet lunch.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Three more new dishes reported to be a sucess!

This week all of the Organic Fresh Fingers' kids tried 3 new dishes and so far the feedback is.....YUMMY!
Creole Red Beans and Rice
Yakisoba Noodle Stir Fry
Pasta Bake with fresh Mozzarella

We have 9 brand new items on the winter rotation and we are 4 for 4 in the taste testing...nice work Chef Kurt!

Thank you for all your feedback - and congratulations on eating fresh, nutritious, local, natural and organic food from Organic Fresh Fingers!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Menu for the Future

The first gathering of this guided discussion group was last night (there will also be a Sat. group). We have a wonderful group of people participating and I am very excited about our upcoming topics.

Next week: What's Eating America?

Session Goals:

Examine the sense of confusion and anxiety often associated with food in our culture

Explore ways in which food connects us to tradition, place and one another

Consider our own place in the global food system

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Trillium Charter School Sensory Testing

Next Thursday, Organic Fresh Fingers will be conducting a senory testing in partnership with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon State University Extension Office.

Organic Fresh Fingers: Cheesy Mac vs Mac-y Cheese

Will the healthier version prevail? Will kids eat a healthier version? Stay tuned for the results of this test!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year, New Menu

Chef Kurt has come up with some great warm dishes to get us through the cold winter. His kid friendly curry has become a HUGE hit.....we heard you, loyal customers, the kids LOVE this dish. Way to go Kurt! We cannot wait to try the Tamale Pie and Eggplant Parmesan - always fresh, always delicious and local whenever possible. Keep checking in for our Fresh N' Local school menus! As always, we are open to your ideas. Submit and recipe and we will consider it for our next menu rotation!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fresh, Local, Natural and Organic School!

Having a hard time believing it's true? Assume that your child's school cannot afford high quality, nutritious foods......think again. At Organic Fresh Fingers, we have many exciting ways to help you increase enrollment, cut your food costs AND provide high quality, natural, organic and local foods. CALL US TODAY TO FIND OUT HOW 503-371-1108.

Interested in how we can help your school or daycare create a zero waste lunch's what we do, let us help :o)

Confused about how to comply with and get reimbursed for food under the USDA Child and Adult Food Program or National School Lunch Program....let us manage the paperwork for you!

Tired of doing meal planning, shopping, cooking and serving all while trying to keep it healthy and cost effective? We can help! Let us handle the food while you get back to running your daycare or school.

CALL NOW and we will tell you how to get free breakfast at your school for a week!