Thursday, September 30, 2010

Children growing their own food leads to healthier eating choices

Organic Fresh Fingers has long made the argument that given the opportunity, children will eat and enjoy healthy school lunches.

Alice Waters and a new study at University of California, Berkeley agrees, but they take it one step further - children that actually participate in growing their own food make healthier eating choices also.

At Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California, students have been growing their own fruits and veggies in the school's garden, what they call an "Edible Schoolyard," for the past five years. From 2006 to 2009, scientists at UC-Berkeley conducted study on the effects growing their own food had on the students.
"Among the key findings of the research, which was commissioned by the Chez Panisse Foundation and is one of the first such studies to evaluate an integrated approach to food education:

• Increased nutritional knowledge among 4th and 7th graders who were fed a steady stream of gardening and cooking curriculum.

• Higher fruit and vegetable consumption among elementary-age students in schools ... including a preference for leafy greens like kale, spinach, and chard.

• Vegetable intake was almost one serving per day greater in the schools with a beefed-up food curriculum, and combined fruit and vegetable consumption increased by 1.5 servings. About 80 percent of this increase came from in-season produce. In comparison, researchers found a nearly quarter-serving drop in produce intake among other students.

• Small increases in produce consumption occurred among middle-schoolers with higher exposure to nutrition education as opposed to a drop in fruit and vegetable intake by about one serving a day among students in the other group. -
The Atlantic, "Berkeley's New School Food Study: A Victory for Alice Waters," by Sarah Henry."
Chef Ann Coopers, who is over school lunch at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, says, "With this study, we can finally prove that what we feed kids and what we teach them about food really does make a difference."

We at Organic Fresh Fingers couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

School Lunch and its Challenges

Since starting our fresh, organic school lunch program at Organic Fresh Fingers, we've had to be aware of all the federal regulations on school lunches. As The Seattle Times found out when it did an in-depth report on Seattle school lunch programs, there are quite a few obstacles to overcome when trying to make school lunches fresher and healthier.
"Should schools increase their lunch budget — which could force cuts to other programs? How about jacking up the prices, so well-off families subsidize the low-income kids? You wouldn't want to suggest the less-affluent kids should get less, would you?

Now, before you vote, remember you have to play by a lot of rules. (And in case you think that's easy, please know that I've deciphered everything from Supreme Court rulings to state foster-care regulations, and this stuff was just as complicated.)

While districts set their own menus, they've got to meet minimums set by the USDA for protein, iron, calcium and Vitamins A and C. They've also got to keep the fat calories under 30 percent.

They've got to make food that kids want to put on their trays, or risk losing funding. (Remember, the feds only give meal subsidies for kids who actually take the meals. Commodity allotments are based on the number of lunch-eaters, too.)

And they've got to create meals that can easily be consumed, by little hands, in less than 20 minutes. Often with a spork." - The Seattle Times, "School lunch has so many issues to chew on, it's tough to change," by Maureen O'Hagan
Organic Fresh Fingers works with school to provide them nutritious, organic and affordable meals that meet all the federal requirements. And kids love the food. Please visit to learn more about how Organic Fresh Fingers is changing school lunch programs in the Salem and Portland metro areas.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A victory for Chickens In The Yard.

Living Culture Online: A victory for Chickens In The Yard.: "Fresh eggs, coming soon to a neighborhood near you! Salem is so close to having chickens, I can almost taste it! Last night Salem City C..."

Check out this great article by Nate Rafn regarding the recent, and almost final, hearing on the backyard chicken issue!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Project Lunch: Teens Work Together to Serve Healthier School Lunches

In Northern California, a group of teens have joined together to launch Project Lunch, an initiative to promote and provide healthier school lunches. Just like Organic Fresh Fingers, they are working to give students healthy, organic, locally sourced and sustainable school lunches.

Click here to read the Huffington Post article about the iniative, and click here to visit the Project Lunch website.