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Real Food for real Kids : Kids sharing a Real Food Meal @ childcare | photographer Sandy Nicholson
In Canada, responsibility for food in schools rests with the provinces and territories. Organizations such FoodShare Toronto have been championing this issue. FoodShare created the model for student nutrition programs in Toronto. The organization promotes food literacy with their Field to Table Schools program, which returns food education to schools through curriculum connections from Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12. FoodShare has had great success with a healthy cafeteria model, and, in 2010, they married their expertise in urban agriculture with their work in schools to help facilitate Canada’s first school market garden. FoodShare is the only organization taking this multifaceted approach to returning healthy food and food literacy to schools.
Similarly, The Stop‘s After-School Program at The Green Barn (also in Toronto) engages children from grades 3 though 6 in fun, hands-on activities that teach skills necessary to grow, cook and select healthy food, and it encourages positive attitudes towards healthy eating. The Stop also has a March Break Camp, Summer Food Camp and Graduate Program. The Green Barn greenhouse, open to the public, showcases growing vegetables that participating children have planted.
Edu-catering company Real Food for Real Kids brings delicious, nutritious lunches to schools, daycares and camps. The company believes that all kids deserve access to fresh, healthy and natural foods. They use locally grown and produced foods, and they cook from scratch, using only whole, all-natural ingredients. They make it a point to find ways to make organic foods fit within all budgets. The result? Over 8,000 kids are now eating real food across the GTA every day. Not just a catering company, Real Food for Real Kids also has a seat at the policy table. The organization has helped define the latest nutrition criteria for Ontario schools, and it continues to challenge the status quo at national childhood obesity dialogues.
Jamie Oliver began a revolution, gaining support from the United Kingdom and United States governments as allies. Leveraging his celebrity and using television as a medium, he has been able to show, not just tell, firsthand accounts of child nutrition. Malnutrition isn’t just a problem in developing countries problem—it’s a problem all over the world. Although many countries have an over-abundance of food, too often they don’t have the skills and knowledge to use it as nourishment.
Factories don’t make vegetables, farmers do. Getting rid of food deserts; providing nutritional education to parents and children; making real, healthy food accessible; and showing busy adults how quick and easy it is to prepare healthful food; these are just a few action items that can be undertaken to continue Jamie’s work and to encourage a healthy generation of children. If you’re a parent, start the education at home by modeling your eating behaviour and being active. It’s up to all of us.
FoodShare Toronto photos by GreenFuse Photos/Laura Berman | The Stop’s After School Program photo’s by Matt O’Sullivan, Pixico Inc. | Real Food for real Kids photos by David Farnell, Sandy Nicholson, Lisa Thacker and Adeline Cohen
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