Editorial: That's no small potatoes

<p> If you&rsquo;re over 40 and you think back to when you were in school, the idea that students would one day become excited about school lunches seems preposterous.</p><p> But change can bring good things and that&rsquo;s certainly the case with the local food movement coming to Vermont schools. That Monkton Center School and Bristol Elementary are two of the latest of area schools to jump on the local foods in schools bandwagon is added evidence of the movement&rsquo;s momentum, educational benefit and economic impact.</p><p> The economic impact and the health benefits are obvious. As Rep. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, who initiated the Food-to-Plate legislation, said in a story in today&rsquo;s paper (see Page 1A), public schools feed 92,000 Vermont students per day through the school year. Getting a good part of that food from local producers not only makes commonsense because it benefits local farmers (and keeps farm land open and the money re-circulates in the local economy), but the health benefits for students over processed foods are significant.</p><p> What&rsquo;s not so well known is the educational benefits of such programs. Allowing students to taste-test samples of food and deciding what they want to eat and why is a stroke of genius because it will educate young students in particular about the issues around healthy eating. That schools are already incorporating this into their programs is more than encouraging, it&rsquo;s exciting.</p><p> Kathy Alexander, coordinator of the new food service co-op that serves Mount Abraham Union High School and the elementary schools in Bristol and Monkton, defines the educational component of the component succinctly: It&rsquo;s about local farms and buying local, she said, but &ldquo;it&rsquo;s more about making our food programs more a part of what the kids are learning every day. The ultimate goal for me is that the culture changes around food.&rdquo;</p><p> Think of that: If we can get our young students to appreciate the value of buying local and eating healthy foods and the difference both of those acts make in our lives (compared to eating fatty foods that make our society obese and supports a big-corporate food culture), that &mdash; as the saying goes &mdash; is no small potatoes.</p><p> Angelo S. Lynn</p>

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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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