Sacramento schools aim to serve healthier food

By Gina Kim
Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011

It wasn’t technically a corn dog Julie Raymond’s kids reported was being served for breakfast at Leonardo da Vinci K-8 School last year.

It was actually a pancake-encased sausage on a stick.

But the skewered sustenance was equally egregious in the eyes of Raymond and her husband, Jonathan, who happens to be superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Since the April launch of the Healthy Foods Task Force to rethink what the district feeds its 47,000 students, there have been successes: Every school will have a salad bar by the end of the year, fruit carts are selling strawberries, grapes and pineapple slices as snacks at the larger high schools, and a handful of farmers are supplying produce directly to the district. Read more »

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Capay Valley farmers create a marketplace

Capay Valley farmers marketBy Gina Kim

Friday Jan. 14, 2011

Lindsey Armeen bypasses the goldfish crackers, M&Ms and yogurt-covered pretzels in the free employee snack rooms at IDEO, a Palo Alto-based design consultant company.

OK, maybe she’ll have a couple peanut M&Ms.

But usually the support coordinator will reach for the piles of fruit grown just 125 miles north in the Capay Valley – a pink lady apple from Manas Ranch, a Satsuma mandarin from Gold Oak Ranch, carrots from Full Belly Farm.

About 30 growers and ranchers from the Yolo County region have banded together to sell their wares as the Capay Valley Farm Shop. In that way, they’re circumventing distributors that won’t deal with small farms while they become cumulatively large enough to fill big orders. Read more »

Urban agriculture: S.F. considers allowing sales

By Robert Selna
Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010

With all the talk about locavores, victory garden revivals and residents raising chickens and bees, a San Franciscan might be surprised to learn that he can’t just sell produce out of his backyard. Not without running afoul of the law, that is.

While vacant real estate increasingly is being reclaimed for nonprofit and community gardens, old zoning laws prohibit selling homegrown produce without a costly permit and a hearing in front of the city Planning Commission.

But that could soon change.

In the coming weeks, city officials will start considering zoning changes that would let San Francisco join several other municipalities – from Boston to Kansas City – that are opening the door to a new small-business experiment: urban agriculture. Read more »

Child Nutrition Bill Passes!

After a year and a half of campaigning, we are thrilled to see that the House today passed the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act. Our nation’s school children were long overdue for an improved child nutrition bill that would allow schools to serve an improved, healthier school lunch.

There were significant and frustrating compromises made along the way: most recently, the funding of the bill with SNAP money—an aggressive move made initially in the Senate version, but then eventually also adopted by the House—that was likely intended to split the school food advocacy community and thus kill the bill. The school food advocacy community were rightfully outraged at the notion of taking money from hungry kids to….feed hungry kids. Read more »

Help Pass the Child Nutrition Act

As Congress returns post-election, they’ll have an improved Child Nutrition Act sitting on their desk – one that gives more money for each meal, supports farm-to-table programs, and kicks junk food out of schools. Click here to tell them to pass it now.

Today 32 million children will line up in school cafeterias across the nation. Right now, underfunding means that the people filling our kids’ trays have no choice but to do it with food that will lead to one in three of those children contracting diabetes.

It’s time to serve our kids a better deal.

The Child Nutrition Act Congress has before it is far from perfect, but it contains the first real increase to school lunch funding in the entire 44 year history of the legislation. That is an amazing achievement for all of us who’ve pushed this hard for so long.

But if we have any hope for getting real, nutritious food on school menus, we have to let Congress know that we want the Act passed now, not later, and we want the flaws in this bill – the funding taken from food stamps – fixed before the end of the year.

Your message could literally make the difference – and is the last chance for this Congress to deliver healthy lunch to our kids.

So far on this ‘Time For Lunch’ campaign, our community has sent over 100,000 emails, made countless phone calls to Congress, and 20,000 of us gathered for an ‘Eat-In’ all over the country. Now it’s time to seal the deal, and for Congress to deliver our children this historic legislation.

Thanks for making it Time For Lunch,
Jerusha, for the Slow Food USA Team

PS – Other than inflationary increases, Congress has never raised the level of funding for the food our children eat at school. Let’s make sure this Congress passes the historic Child Nutrition Act, and delivers America’s children the nutrition they deserve.

Guidebook Takes New Approach to California Agriculture

By Carlos Alcalá
Monday, Nov. 22, 2010

The authors of the first-ever “Field Guide to California Agriculture” want people to think about where their food is coming from – and to think about it in new ways.

The guide, recently published by the University of California Press, opens with something that looks little like a field guide and nothing like agriculture.

A two-page spread shortly after the table of contents looks like nothing so much as an array of paint chips.

The grid of 160 little colored squares begins with what looks like an amethyst purple and ends with school-bus yellow.

The text on the following two pages reveals that it is the “Colors of California Agriculture,” ranging alphabetically from Alfalfa Flower (the amethyst) to Zucchini Blossom (the yellow. Read more »