The benefits of eating local
To the Editor:
On Wednesday, Sept. 21, Rhode Island students in Providence, Cranston, Cumberland, Exeter-West Greenwich, Foster, Glocester, Pawtucket, Warwick, West Warwick and Woonsocket school districts were served a lunch made entirely from Rhode Island grown ingredients. The statewide All Local Day school lunch menu, as developed by the food service provider Sodexo, included more than 50,000 pieces of Rhode Island grown fruit and 10,000 pounds of Rhode Island grown vegetables.
Eight Rhode Island farms provided the ingredients for All Local Day’s menu, including peaches and nectarines from Pippin Orchard and Barden Family Orchard, apples from Steere Orchard and Barden Family Orchard, corn from Confreda Farms, onions from RI Nurseries, potatoes from Quonset View Farms, lettuce from Pezza Family Farm and cucumbers from Captan Elisha Steere Farm. Roch’s Produce hired 24 new employees to help get the fruit and veggies delivered to all the individual schools, and continues to be an enthusiastic and essential partner in the expansion of Farm to School across our state.
The economic impact of a statewide Local Foods Lunch in many school districts cannot be underestimated. By serving Rhode Island grown fruits and veggies, honey, pasta and sauce to our elementary, middle and high school students, district dollars help to directly support our local economy and our local farmers. Local foods in local schools also help teach our students about the importance of community, the preservation of green space and the healthful benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables that have not traveled long distances to reach our plates. Plus, local foods taste great!
As coordinator of the Rhode Island Farm to School project, Kids First applauds the concept of All Local Day for Rhode Island schools serviced by Sodexo and encourages every school district to continue to ask for more locally grown produce to be included in every school lunch every single day.
Farm to School Coordinator