Thursday, June 11, 2009

Exciting new program provides local food

There is some exciting news coming from Bureau County, Illinois. They're creating a garden at one of the schools to improve nutrition and encourage physical activity among the district's 1,100 students. They want their cooks to start cooking again, instead of just opening boxes of prepared foods.

Why are they doing this? Because they discovered some disturbing facts about an eight-county area that includes Bureau County. "According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, in three of the eight counties, more than 65 percent of the population is overweight or obese. The other five don’t fall far behind." Another sad fact is that,
According to statistics provided by the American Corn Growers Association, six of the eight counties targeted by the program were recently placed on the poverty watch or warning lists. Building self-sustainable communities that can fulfill their own basic needs means not relying on external help in times of trouble.

And the benefits of the program are
Increasing local food supply for local consumption reduces human impact on the environment and supports the local economy in a time when the average food mile is 1,500 miles and $48 billion leaves the state for food procurement each year.
“We’re increasing access to fresh, natural food, and the money stays in the community. It’s a win-win for everyone,” Horwitz said.

There are also educational benefits. Rare and unusual fruits and vegetables will be included, so teachers can take students to the garden and talk about the food that was eaten by Native Americans, Thomas Jefferson, or George Washington.

It is truly turning into a community garden as local businesses, clubs and students pitch in. The garden will be 1/4 acre this year, but it will increase to an acre and a half by the third year. It would be great if more school districts decided to follow suit!


Brianne said...

Deborah- I can't tell you how timely this post is. Just Tuesday afternoon, my aunt sent me this video:
Do check it out. I have been replaying it over and over in my mind since I saw it... Just one of those things that sticks with you: your brain keeps chewing on it days later. It's a powerful piece, and a powerful movement! :)

Deborah said...

Thanks for sharing, Brianne! That's an amazing lecture. I'm going to visit her website. You're right -- it does stick with you. Some of those statistics are really shocking. My family will be doing a service at our church next month on "The Spirituality of Eating" and we'll definitely be quoting some of her information. I love what she says about it being a social justice issue.

dancingdenise said...

Hi Deb! I think this is a great iniative. The cost of groceries has sky-rocketed. Wholesome, fresh food is hard to come by. When you look around you, almost everyone is overweight or obese. Good food is hard to come by. When I changed my diet, I went from a size 16 jeans to about a 10 /12 now. I get some dirty looks, but it is high maintenance, lookin' good!!

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