It’s full on summer in New Orleans and our Growing Local NOLA food and farm center is starting to really heat up with all the public classes we’ve been offering. Last night, we hosted a natural pest and disease management seminar. It was a perfect evening, complete with a lovely breeze and some fluffy white clouds to provide just the right amount of shade. Louisiana Master Gardener and Botanist Ica Crawford led the group through preventative as well as curative ways to handle a wide range of garden troubles. She even brought samples of problematic insects and plants with common diseases to help people identify symptoms as early as possible, so they can treat them quickly and effectively. RFC and NOFFN are hosting a series of trainings for farmers and gardeners over the course of the next few weeks – check back for more great pix and info!
Exciting things happening at our Growling Local NOLA campus in Central City New Orleans! As our contribution to the annual NOLA Locavores Eat Local Challenge – we hosted an “all local” farm to table cooking demonstration. We had more than 50 people in attendance trying out our fresh and delicious recipes with ingredients from all local farms (including ours!) -
Zucchini and yellow squash “pasta” ribbons with pecan basil pesto
Herbed strawberries over mixed greens in a lemon honey pecan vinaigrette
Blueberry honey frozen yogurt with candied pecans and a sweet cream drizzle
We’ll be featuring these in our upcoming newsletter too – so be on the lookout for that coming your way soon. Not a member yet and want these great recipes and more? Join our mailing list!
Many thanks to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation for all their support in developing Growing Local NOLA and allowing us to offer free health-supportive programs for our community!
It has been a busy and exciting few weeks for us at RFC in our efforts to improve access to fresh, sustainable and local food in Louisiana schools and beyond.
We first organized a push aimed at the U.S. House of Representatives’ proposed agriculture appropriations bill, that if passed as written, would allow schools to opt out of providing children meals with basic nutritional requirements – including not enough fruits and vegetables. Minimum nutritional standards for school food took years to establish. To now create a means to evade these requirements would be a real setback that mainly hurts our Nation’s most needy children. Today, students in the United States consume 35 to 50 percent of their daily calories at school, and what’s on the plates that kids get at school is especially important for the nearly 30 million children who receive government-subsidized meals – they often rely on food served at school to meet their basic nutritional needs. As nearly 20 percent of U.S. children struggle with hunger, school cafeterias are often the primary source for young people to access food to keep them healthy.
RFC and organizations around the United States have banded together under the slogan #SaveSchoolLunch to get this waiver provision removed from the agriculture appropriations bill. On behalf of farmers, organizations and individuals from around the country, RFC has been pushing Congress to make sure school food provides what our kids need. The House still has not voted on this bill and WE NEED YOU to take action:
- Sign the Credo Petition calling for Congress to do the right thing and not lower standards for school lunch
- Call Your Representative at: 202-224-3121 (ask for your own Representative) and tell him/her to “amend the Agriculture Appropriations Bill by striking §739.”
- Check out the letter we sent to various Reps
We also recently guest lectured at the School Nutrition Association of Louisiana’s 61st Annual Conference in Marksville, Louisiana. The SNA brings together representatives from all sectors that work together to provide school meals. RFC led two break-out sessions that addressed state and federal requirements related to procurement and how schools can use legal tools to preference local food in their purchases. We also hosted a critical conversation about the current state of the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in Louisiana, and how it can become a better utilized tool to access fresh and local food for schools.
Let’s not forget the exciting new Farm to School support resolution passed by the LA Legislature!
Finally, RFC is excited to announce that we will be contributing to a city-wide resource guide published by the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies. IWES is a New Orleans based non-profit that is currently assembling a comprehensive community health resource guide for school administrators, teachers and parents. The resource guide is being developed as part of IWES’ Healthy-by-Default program, in collaboration with the City of New Orleans’ Fit NOLA Partnership. RFC will be listed as an advocate organization and provide a legal summary about how schools can procure healthy, fresh and sustainable produce for their cafeterias and programming.
Hooray LA! We are very excited that our legislature passed a Farm to School support resolution! RFC, as part of a larger effort to improve access to healthy fresh food and increased wellness, has joined with a wide range of groups and individuals to push for Louisiana to be a leader on promoting healthier, local food in our schools. This is especially significant since there are so many farms and farmers that will happily sell their produce to schools, and work with schools to grow food right on site too, so Louisiana children can have access to fresher food.
This program so important to support, for example, to allow schools like Ponchatoula High School, that was founded due to the dramatic increase in the local strawberry growing industry and where today agriculture is a core part of their curriculum, to eat strawberries grown right in their own backyard (literally!) rather than imported from elsewhere. The City of Ponchatoula is often called the Strawberry Capital – with an annual strawberry festival. Students sell strawberry plants grown at school to the public.
It’s no secret that farm to school programs are literally growing all around the U.S., giving students hands-on opportunities to learn about fresh food, science, farming, the environment and so much more. We here at RFC have been working, especially in Louisiana, on promoting farm to school activities. Today, we are very excited that a Louisiana state resolution just passed with a unanimous vote out of the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture and Rural Development Committee to the full Senate for a vote on supporting farm to school programs for the state. We were there in Baton Rouge to urge the Committee to vote for this important, proactive piece. Read our comments here. Next, “SCR 94″ will be voted on by the full Senate likely in the next few days. If it passes, then it will move to the House for introduction and passage into the House Agriculture Committee. This process usually takes some time, so it may be a few weeks before the hearing in the House Agriculture Committee. We’ll keep you updated as it moves through the Louisiana legislature. What can you do right now? Thank Senator Heitmeier (HeitmeierD@legis.la.gov) for introducing this resolution and promoting farm to school programs!