Update On The Farm to School Network in Maui
October is National Farm to School Month which celebrates a National Movement that humbly began with a handful of schools in the 1990’s. The movement grew into a National Farm to School Network in 2007 and has spread now into all 50 states. There are thousands of schools, school gardens, food education facilities, farms, communities and state and county organizations are taking part in bringing healthy local organic ingredients to cafeterias nationwide.
The mission of the National Farm to School Network is to increase access to local organic food and nutrition education to improve children’s health, strengthen family farms and cultivate vibrant communities. They envision a nation in which farm to school is an essential component of local food systems, not just for the health of our children, our local farms and environments, but also for the health of our local economy.
This means identifying and meeting the challenges that prevent this kind of healthy local food expansion, beginning with creating easy ways to change our lazy unhealthy eating and food habits. It’s also necessary to address archaic public health laws and land use zoning that curtail healthy practices. The National Farm to School Network is able to do this by partnering with local community, county, state and federal organizations that are related to public health, education and agriculture to better address and in some cases rewrite policy that is outdated. They are then able to promote programs that provide easy and affordable access to healthy, organic foods.
Raising healthy children is the common goal shared by parents, schools and communities everywhere. By making this is the centerpiece for the actions needed to meet this goal, more and more county, state and federally funded departments and organizations are working in partnership to make Farm to School’s mission happen with unprecedented speed! Maui is no exception!
Recently, a strategic alliance Coalition was formed here on Maui to do just that, to expedite the process of helping our schools grow, buy and eat local produce. Spearheaded by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development and SNAP-Ed of the Department of Health, 20 like-minded county, state and locally aligned group heads have come together to identify and create forward movement to help increase locally grown food, healthy local alternatives in school cafeterias and help to support local economic growth in these areas. The groups committed to this process include Mālamalama Maui, and our partners, Maui School Garden Network, and Grow Some Good. We’ve pledged to continue meeting regularly to identify our most pressing challenges and create the needed changes to make Farm to School’s mission the accepted practice here on our island of Maui!
The Mālamalama Maui Project encourages each person who lives here to learn more and help celebrate the Movement during this National Farm to School Month. Here is your fresh opportunity to get involved and educate yourself and others and to support local farm to school here on Maui, and to support it throughout the state of Hawai’i. Click here for some easy steps each one of us can take to make Farm to School a reality now!