Friday, February 18, 2011

Meatless Mondays At Schools

If you've been following local food news, you know that our schools are working -- slowly, but surely -- to improve the nutritive value of school lunches. With the urging of the Children's Health Collaborative, a local group of parents, pediatricians, and school officials, the school lunch program is trying a few new things.

Recently, Del Norte schools had their first Meatless Monday, a vegetarian lunch that follows a national trend. As NPR reported last summer, Sid Lerner is trying to market Meatless Mondays as a way for all Americans to cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol found in animal products. It can also be easier on the pocketbook, one reason that the Smith River senior lunch program has been serving meatless lunches on Mondays since early last summer.

Sid Lerner is a veteran ad-man -- he brought the world the Charmin-squeezing shoppers who were harangued with "Don't squeeze the Charmin!" So it is no wonder that he is using smart marketing to spread the word about Meatless Mondays. The website features lots of reasons to go meatless and news about the campaign. It's also the source for the playful posters designed by Lerner's team that will be showing up in the halls at DN High School.

What do you think? Should our schools embrace this trend? Do you participate in Meatless Mondays or would you consider participating?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Welcome To The Table!

The past several weeks have been full of food and agriculture news both nationally and locally. It almost feels like the food world has invited us to start the Growing Tables blog now, during all the buzz. And so we are launching Growing Tables. This blog has been floating around the Community Assistance Network's staff wish list for a while and we are very happy to welcome you to what we hope are growing tables of conversations about our local food and agriculture system.

Growing Tables will offer up new and information relevant to Del Norte's current and future food system; feature profiles of local "food heroes"; announce food- and agriculture-related events in our region; provide growing calendars for our coastal climate; and occasionally call for volunteers for food-related projects. We want this blog to be interactive, so please let us know about events or food heroes you'd like to see featured in this space.

There has been local food news in abundance recently. I think it started locally with this excellent article about Crescent Elk Middle School's broccoli harvest. Joe Gillespie and his gardening crew provided broccoli from the school garden to the cafeteria, adding fresh, local veggies to the lunch offerings. The Triplicate followed up with a two-part series about Del Norte's school lunch programs and the Children's Health Collaborative's efforts to improve school lunches and add salad bars to all our schools.

In unrelated, but exciting news, the Requa Inn held its first wine-makers dinner to great success. They not only highlighted regional wines, but also local foods. This is one of many events the Requa Inn has planned for this winter, the first time recently the Inn has remained open throughout the year.

From CAN's perspective, we are eagerly anticipating breaking ground on two new community gardens over the next few weeks (if the rain doesn't move in semi-permanently again!). They have both been a long time coming, but will soon offer more growing space for residents eager to grow their own food, but without the land resources to do it. We'll be sure to post pictures of their development as we go.

We hope over the coming months and years, you will help us add to the good food news in our community. Help us grow the tables for healthy food, community, and positive action!