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Wisconsin Home Grown Lunch: Healthy Choices for Schools

by Jan Christensen

Kids need healthy foods. Not cheap food, not convenient food. Food should be the top priority in the budget. As responsible adults, it’s our job to insist on it, and figure out how to make it happen. There’s a great idea being fielded that offers an elegant, obvious solution to the problems of kids and food in schools. It’s called Wisconsin Home Grown Lunch, and it’s modeled on a number of farm-to-school initiatives that are springing up all over the country. Simply stated, the program matches up local farmers with school systems, and arranges for locally grown, fresh produce to be made available for school lunch programs. This past fall, a program in Madison has started offering locally grown produce in the lunches of three pilot schools. Fresh local vegetables, a tortilla wrap sandwich, and other items using locally grown produce will be included in the menus. Closer to home, a program in West Bend schools has been proposed by a coalition headed by Mary Ann Ime, director of Wellspring, a community supported agriculture project in Newton. Thus far, 25 local farmers who participate in the West Bend Farmers’ Market have been identified as likely sources for fresh foods for school lunch programs. The group is working with the superintendent of the West Bend school system to identify three pilot schools to participate in the Wisconsin Home Grown Lunch program in that city. Are we ready for this kind of program in Milwaukee? Yes! For more information, see http://www.reapfoodgroup.org/farmtoschool/index.shtml.