Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekly Food Roundup - Sharing the Surplus, School Lunch and National Food Safety

*Weekly Food Roundup is a weekly recap of local, national and global food issues as they play out online, in print and in our everyday lives. Check back every Friday for new installments.*

If you haven't already, please consider donating some canned, non-perishable or fresh food to our "Share the Surplus" Food Drive, which ends today. We are collaborating with other Wilmington College VISTAs in organizing this drive, and we hope to collect a significant amount of food to donate to our area food pantries. The event will culminate tonight at the Wilmington High School varsity football game, where a food donation will earn you raffle tickets to a number of prizes donated by local businesses.

So far, we've collected almost 400 lbs. of food (or 6,350.42 oz; Thanks, Data Collection Sonja), and hope to increase that number tenfold after tonight. More information about the food drive can be found here.

***

This past Labor Day, while Americans across the country were relishing the day off of work or school at picnics and cookouts, a great many of them were eating for a cause. In all 50 states, some 307 "eat-ins" were organized to address the ongoing issue of the quality of government-subsidized school lunches, which are notoriously unhealthy.

Originally spearheaded by the food advocacy group Slow Food USA, the Time for Lunch campaign is a call to action directed towards Congress and our lawmakers in D.C. to re-evaluate our outdated School Lunch Program, which was signed into law in 1946 and feeds more than 30.5 million children everyday. Slow Food has long championed the revitalizing of our school cafeterias by replacing (or at least supplementing) the heavily processed school food with real, fresh food. By investing additional time and money into our school kitchens, we'll not only address the skyrocketing childhood obesity epidemic but we could educate kids about healthy eating habits at the one place where they spend the majority of their early lives: school.

Another interesting side-note to this story is Slow Food's call for a School Lunch Corps- a job-generating national service organization dedicated to increasing healthy eating in our nation's schools. From Slow Food USA's release on the topic:
We can’t serve real food in schools without investing in school kitchens and the people who prepare and serve lunch. This spring, President Obama signed the Serve America Act, which expanded Americorps and reinforced his call for Americans to serve their country. Right now, our nation has an opportunity to train young and unemployed Americans to be the teachers, farmers, cooks and administrators we need to ensure the National School Lunch Program is protecting children’s health. President Obama has called for an end to childhood hunger by 2015; let’s answer that call by putting Americans to work building and working in school kitchens nationwide.
Imagine a garden on every school ground and a crew of AmeriCorps volunteers who planted, harvested and prepared that food for our kids. Grow Food, Grow Hope would willingly be conscripted for that job.

***

Big news came out of Washington on Wednesday at the Consumer Federation of America's food policy conference. Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services Secretary, announced a new food safety website intended to streamline information for consumers about food news, product recalls and other food-related issues.

Foodsafety.gov is a collaboration between the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture and HHS, and comes after an FDA announcement on Tuesday mandating stricter guidelines for reporting food contamination and the creation of an online database where manufacturers can report food issues.

1 comment:

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