Go the Extra Mile Introduction - A Big Appetite for Change

To go the extra mile in improving your school’s food, you can work with your administration to develop a long-term food procurement policy that focuses on buying healthier, local, or sustainable products. Developing a new food procurement policy that takes students’ health and the environment into account is the path to long-lasting change.

How to begin thinking about long-term changes in lunch practices at your school
A great place to start is by bringing the issue to your school through a School Lunch Lottery. This event, created by Organic Valley, is an opportunity for stakeholders such as parents and school staff to get together to taste and discuss school food as it is now and the future possibilities. The event creates first-hand awareness about the impact of school lunch because the participants eat the actual food that students eat. It also serves as a chance to build cooperation at the community level and plant the seeds of change.

See the success of other schools
Motivated people like yourself have already improved school food in many schools across the country! To get inspired from them and learn what made them successful, check out these stories by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

It’s also important to be aware of success stories of schools that made improvements without losing revenue. Often financial concerns are the biggest roadblock in the way of change. Explain to the roleplayers in your school that improvements don’t ALWAYS have to come with a higher price tag.

Some general keys to success to keep in mind...
To develop a plan to buy more local food, implement a farm-to-school program, or begin a productive school garden at your school, take advantage of the guides, tools, and organizations that we link to in this Go the Extra Mile section. While you take action, keep in mind the keys to success that students at Unity College recommend from their 2008 study on using local foods in schools…

1. Have a coordinator for school gardens and farm processes

2. Become comfortable with the idea that local or farm-fresh food might cost a little more, but will be worth it in other ways, such as better student health and food-education opportunities

3. Seek out grants, funding opportunities, and assistance because more and more help is becoming available

4. Involve students in every level of school garden and farm production because they can really help

5. Try to use distributing companies that buy from local farmers or urge your current distribution company to buy from local farmers

6. Utilize a root cellar to store large volumes of food your garden produces, but can’t use right away. Often, converted basement can make a suitable root cellar.

Get Started!
This Go-the-Extra mile section has a page on developing your school food policy, a page on initiating a farm-to-school program, and a page on starting a productive school garden. So, what are you waiting for?

It’s a ripe time for improving school food! American society, as a whole, is becoming increasingly supportive. For example, the World Watch Institute reports that the number of farmers markets has grown from 300 in the 1970s to more than 3,700 in 2004! And the number of CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture Programs) has increased from just fifty in 1990 to over 2,000 today!