by Rita O
I was moved by the speech you gave when you won the TED prize. Your words and actions have inspired me to keep up the good fight here in Washington State. I have been advocating for a food revolution in our schools in Mount Vernon, WA for over 5 years. My name is Rita Ordóñez, and I am a parent of 2 children, a community advocate and a geographer. I have been working, along with other community members, to improve the nutrition and increase the amount of locally farmed produce in the meals served to our students at school. I have to say that one gets weary working to change the food system, as change can come very slow and often the steps towards it seem like 2 baby steps forward and 1 back. But, as a mother and auntie, I know that babies fall down alot when they're learning to walk, and with encouragement, they do eventually figure it out.
Change has been very difficult in our school food system due to lack of funds, lack of processing facilities, and lack of innovative and creative ideas from our ever changing Food Service Directors. We have kept up our advocacy efforts, and last year, even with an economic downturn, our school board took a brave step and allocated money for us to buy local produce, and improve the nutrition of school meals. We now have a group of community members, parents, staff, a farmer, and a high school student that meet regularly with the Food Services director to suggest changes and implement new ideas.
This is still a long difficult process. Even though food is grown in our "backyard" by many small and large growers, there are no processing facilities left in our community, so the school district has a difficult time getting this local produce into our school kitchens. Due to labor costs and kitchens that don't have the proper equipment, in-house produce processing has become a thing of the past. As I'm sure you know, it is much easier, and much cheaper, for schools to buy ready made, heat and serve commodity foods from the federal government.
We started our efforts in Mount Vernon as a "Healthy School Pilot" at Lincoln Elementary. You can see some our efforts at change in the video we made for the "Real Food Is" video contest. It is called "Lincoln's Journey to Real Food".
With our children at Lincoln gardening and engaging in family cooking classes, we are beginning to see connections being made between the garden and creating healthy recipes. I had a student, Jonathan Herrera, tell me the other day in the garden, "This is kale!" I asked him how he knew this and he said, "We put it in our smoothies in cooking class." I asked him how the smoothie tasted, and he said, "It was great, and we even sweetened it with something called stevia". WOW! I was so impressed with the knowledge that he had gained and the links he had made. Sometimes, when we work at change, we are not sure that we are making a difference. Jonathan is one example of why we need to continue to do the work we do.
Thank you for your efforts, Jamie. By being on TV, your message will reach a larger audience than mine could ever do. I am hopeful that with many small efforts made every day in communities around the United States, that change will come and it will be a change that we can all be proud of.
by BK Farmyards
BK Farmyards is a decentralized urban farming network based in Brooklyn. We partner with developers, schools, organizations, and homeowners to transform idle land to farmyard. Our educational agenda includes food democracy, eating seasonally, growing food locally, storing and preparing food, and species biodiversity. We aim to build a local food network that enhances the health of our culture, our people, and our environment.
Last year, we farmed peoples' backyards in Ditmas Park and 6 CSA members came to pick up produce weekly at the farm. This year we are launching two large projects. The first is a 50 hen chicken coop in partnership with NYRP in Crown Heights to provide fresh eggs to the community. We poured the foundations last week, and we will be building the coop this week. The hens come to their new home on Friday, April 2nd.
Our largest project is the new 1-acre Youth Farm at the High School for Public Service in Crown Heights / East Flatbush. The mission of the school is public service, and each student is required to complete 200 hours of public service before graduation, but on average, they complete 500 hours! 85% of the students at this high school qualify for free lunch, and the neighborhood lacks anything resembling fresh, affordable produce.
We will be converting 10,000 square feet to farm this year, and we will expand to the full acre over the course of four years. We are working with a teacher advisory board to integrate the farm into classrooms such as Civilization, Human Rights, Nutrition, and Photo Journalism. We are working with the students to design and build a 2000 square foot school garden as well. We are working with the city to create a summer youth employment program to teach the students sustainable farming practices as well as self-confidence and entrepreneurial skills. We will host harvest festivals for the community in the spring and fall. The produce grown on site will be sold to the community this year: in future years we are considering farmers market and getting some food into the cafeteria.
We are just starting all these ventures, so the challenges are many. We have raised ~$17,000 this year for the project. We have been volunteering at the school since October to bring these programs to fruition.
Our blog shows the groundbreaking this weekend at the school; and our press link on www.bkfarmyards.com has links to videos, articles, and more.
There are many people who have been building revolutions in their communities, and I hope that soon it will be one giant revolution! We would love to have Jamie Oliver come out and see what the students are up to and give them some extra motivation and confidence that they are on the leading edge of a revolution.
Best of luck!
Halleluah, finally someone is hitting the mark.
Having grown up on an organic hobby farm I found it very hard to believe that people would eat "FOOD" that came in a peel-away plastic container with an undetermined expiry date and call it nutritious. I mean really, have we become that removed from nature?
People say it's too expensive to eat healthy food options and yet they manage to eat 3 burgers for lunch, what they really mean is it too expensive to be overeat! Processed foods had become the enablers of food addiction and gluttony. People have become lazy because it's inexpensive and yet they complain when they get the doctors bill...........we all have to pay at some point. It truly pays to eat better food.
Having spent the last 3 years encouraging my childrens school to offer better food choices and only finding resistance, I finally decided to put my money where my mouth was and put together a proposal for a nutrition program that included taking over the cafeteria.
If all goes well, this coming September I will be implementing a comprehenisive program that would include a breakfast program for the hungry kiddies, a teaching program for the grade 6 children to get them cook'n and a healthy lunch program at the "KIDZ CAFE" that would include ethnic cuisine as well.
In the future I hope to implement the same programs in the surrounding communities that are losing their cafeteria services because everyone claims it's too expensive to eat good food. A banana and a handfull of nuts is better than chicken nuggets and frenchfires any day and bananas are cheap..............
Cheers to Jamie and the gang for getting the word out!
Gillian from Canada -
We may not be suffering from an obesity epidemic...yet, but we might if people don't remember that quality is better than quantity.
First, I just wanted to say Thank You to Danny for posting my blog comments. My name is Laura.
Whem I posted my comments about Jamie's Food Revolution, I didn't honestly expect them to attract so much attention. As a former features editor for a newspaper, I once was invited into a school to write about changes they were making to their school lunch program and encouraging the children to eat healthy. Not only did the top person in food service work to revamp their school lunch program, but a WALK club was started as well. Children were given pedometers so they could count their steps and get together during lunch recess to walk Some actually started losing weight as a result of the top person in food service believing things could change. This food service adminstrator was not the only person to make the program work, but she helped facilitate it and shape into the program it later became.
But this was five years ago.
I have no idea if the children in that area are still practicing healthy eating. But I do know for an entire school and community to change their eating habits, it takes tremendous support. Most everyone has to believe that change is possible for this to occur. In a country today that is so dependent on fast food, fast service, fast everything...I think sometimes we sell ourselves short. We look to the fast food, fast service, fast whatever because it is easy, convenient. Sometimes, I think we forget what the fast is really doing for us, how it is really hurting instead of helping and it is no wonder American waistlines have expanded.
Jamie's Food Revolution isn't a new idea. But it is an idea that I think Americans especially don't take to heart very often until forced to by health problems or something else forces us to change. We don't change simply because someone says we should. We see results, we make a decision to change. We change for us, not the person sitting next to us, not the next-door neighbor or the dog. US. I simply think it is great that someone has come along and challenged others to look at their food choices, examine what they are eating and asked them to decide to change what they know in order to strive toward healthy eating and living. This is all Jamie has done.
But for Jamie's Revoltion to work, enough people must decide it is time for change...time to start eating healthy. Otherwise, this Revolution will be in vain. And no amount of prodding on one individual's part will change anything.
What I am doing to start my own food revolution? Maybe nothing special. But I am evoking change. Change in my own life...by promising to eat more healthy, lay off the junk food and pick up the carrots more. I can tell you Jamie had nothing to do with me deciding to evoke this change, except maybe giving me inspiration to keep trying, to continue eating healthy and exercising. And I am letting this change serve as a witness in my own life to the power of postive thinking, persuaion and simply believing I CAN change what I am unhappy about.
This is what Jamie is doing...building the simplest of Revolutions by simply inspiring and helping people believe one thing: That they CAN...change their own health, eat healthy, lose weight and made a difference in their own life. And once others see change, it inspires them to consider what they don't have, inspires them to consider the possiblity they too can achieve change.
And the Food Revolution grows!
I hope others are inspired to let go of the fast and adopt the future. By this, I mean I hope they consider what fast food, fast service, etc., is really doing for them and consider what effects this will have in the future.
In this is there any hope of the Food Revolution helping America. Thanks Jamie for caring enough to reach out to others...trying to help them let go of what's fast and helping them see its better to adopt/invest in the future.
May the Food Revolution continue...as long as people believe/
PLEASE JAMIE & DANNY I NEED YOUR HELP. I have been questioning this for 6yrs. My son gained 27lbs in 1st grade & even the doctors didn't help. They drew blood & said it was Thyroid BUT I DISAGREE. The food & how often given was/is THE PROBLEM!!
7:30AM-BREAKFAST-HONEY BUNS, CEREAL, FLAVORED MILD, PIZZA, BISCUTS & GRAVY, POP TARTS.
10AM-LUNCH-PIZZA, NUGGETS, BURRITOS, HOT DOGS, HAMBURGERS(ALL FROZEN) SLOPPY JOES ETC.
2PM-REQURED SNACK- LEFTOVER BREAKFAST!!!
When I questioned the school I was told "WELL YOU AREN'T IN CHICAGO ANYMORE HONEY, & THIS IS HOW WE DO THINGS HERE!"
Jamie, I tried packing his lunch & breakfast at home, but he would "sneak" the bad food. He is 11yrs old & 130lbs. The doctor told me NOT TO WORRY ABOUT IT, HE WILL LOSE IT WHEN HE GOES THROUGH PUEBERTY". He loses weight EVERY SUMMER but by Christmas gives into the temptation of school food.
I NEED YOUR HELP WITH MY SON & THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. WHAT CAN I DO!!!!!! I AM ONLY ONE PERSON THAT NOBODY HERE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT WITH. I DON'T WANT MY SON TO LIVE A LIFE OF BEING OVERWEIGHT & I DON'T WANT THE REST OF THE KIDS TO EITHER. 90% OF THE SCHOOL IS OBESE!!!! PLEASE SEND ME SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO "START A REVOLUTION" IN THIS SMALL RURAL COMMUNITY!!!! PS. My health coverage won't allow me to switch doctors, who live in this community.
THANKS FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING IN AMERICA & FOR YOUR TIME.
LOOKING FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU,
Danny, I have attempted to give a different perspective with my posts under food advice and tried to impart as a journal.
Can you take the time to review as I basically withdrew from further posts but have replied to the last entry I did.
I would be more than happy to collaborate.
you are also welcome to email me at the email I have on file
Hi Jamie & Crew,
I am writing to tell you about what we at EZGarden.com are doing to support the Food Revolution. I founded EZGarden.com last year because I was inspired to help today’s busy families grow vegetables in home vegetable gardens. If we really want people to grow food, then we have to remove the barriers that stand in the way, including:
• Teaching people how to grow vegetables - seemingly simple instructions like “when to plant peas” are deceivingly complex when accompanied by vague terms like “plant in early spring”; when is ‘early spring’ exactly?
• Reducing the time required to plan the garden - garden layouts require planning to consider the gardener’s production goals, as well as optimal placement of each plant given plant height, sunlight & water requirements, trellising requirements, and good/bad companion relationships.
• Simplify the record keeping process - healthy gardens require record keeping to manage crop rotation, an important defense against pests and disease.
Unfortunately, today’s families don’t have a lot of time to spare. I believe that in order to encourage people to garden, we have to make it really easy for them. That is the goal of EZGarden.com. We’re getting ready to go live with version 1 of the software this month, and you can check out the video on our website if you would like to see how the software works. Subsequent versions will focus on helping families use the food they have grown by providing access to recipes linked to the vegetables maturing in the garden each week.
I also hope that EZGarden.com can play an important supportive role in the School Gardens Revolution by providing a fundraising vehicle to schools wishing to launch such a program. By selling subscriptions of EZGarden.com through a school fundraising program, schools can benefit from a recurring revenue stream for each software subscription sold, as well as annual revenue for the sale of seeds through the software.
We appreciate all the work that you and your crew have done through the various programs and initiatives affiliated with JamieOliver.com. We at EZGarden.com are excited to do our part to help our nation, and ultimately the world, step forward into a healthier way of living.
Thank you for your consideration.
I live in a beautiful area of Australia and recently our people in our street have started growing fruit trees and vegetables on the footpath. We are buying our own large compost bins for the whole neighbourhood and encouraging the local school to grow vegetables as well - we have a huge vision for our community.
This leads on to my passion which is Whole Food Medicine and after watching Jamie's talk about Diabetes on TED just had to get on to his site to tell everyone about Don Tolman, the wholefood medicine man - both Jamie and Don are doing wonders to shift the consciousness of the world and to take back control of our health.
As I cannot put my blog link in this post I suggest you Google Gaeaspeaks Blog which comes up at the top of the Google pageto check out the info and videos about Don.