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.