Focus on School Food


Here's our interview with Avis Richards of Birds Nest Foundation and the Ground Up Campaign. We hope you are inspired to teach the little ones around you how important it is to eat healthy food and to know where food comes from!

1.) You developed LUNCH, a documentary that showcases the effects of the National School Lunch Program. What was your goal in creating this film and why is now the time to start a food revolution?

My goal with LUNCH, and with similar projects like LunchNYC, Dylan’s Lunchbox and the Ground Up Campaign, was to create awareness of the consequences of growing up in a fast food culture, to instill in audiences a sense of urgency for changing the way we view our food, and lastly to encourage change within the school system. We need to protect the health of the next generation starting immediately.2.) What do you want the American public to know about the food that is served in our children's cafeterias? Furthermore, what do you urge parents and school administrators to do once they are made aware that their kids are eating mostly processed, nutrient-less food?

Parents should know that their children are eating highly-processed, low-nutrient foods for 1-2 meals a day. This not only affects their short and long-term health, but also their academic performance and general well-being. Parents hold the power. They need to be the one’s urging change in the schools. If you educate the children and parents on this issue, they will push for different food options and generate real change.3.) Whose responsibility do you think it is to make changes to the school lunch program and why do you think these changes are not occurring frequently?

I think school boards and administrators are hugely responsible, though they are also very often working with small budgets, so even if they agree the food is not healthy they may not be in a position to push for true change. The responsibility truly lies with parents, educators and any individual who understands the importance of helping our kids grow up healthy and happy. It’s a cause we can all agree is important. We just need to make it a priority.4.) Another initiative of your foundation is called the Ground Up Campaign, which educates Americans on how to grow their own food. Who do you hope will take advantage of this campaign and what does it teach children and adults?

The Ground Up Campaign is first and foremost intended to educate students about where their food comes from. As we say, “Education Starts from the Ground Up.” By putting indoor academic gardens in classrooms and incorporating the growing process into the curriculum, this campaign will help teach kids about vegetables, improve math skills and instill a curiosity and appreciation for the growing process. I think teachers will also benefit as well by being exposed to gardening since we all need a reminder to eat our veggies! Even on a small scale, we can make a big impact.

5.) We're so excited that Veggiecation is partnering with the Ground Up campaign to get people gardening! What are you most looking forward to with this project?

This campaign will teach children where their vegetables come from and provide them with an opportunity to taste new foods. Through the campaign they will learn about nutrition.

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