The Farm to School Greater Vancouver Group has released this short article on the opportunities & challenges that come along with feeding the fifty-six thousand + students in the Vancouver School District healthy, sustainable, and affordable food. Read on for more:
There are over 56,000 students in the Vancouver School District. Every purchaser and practitioner knows it’s a tricky business trying to feed kids healthy, affordable and sustainable meals and snacks, day in and day out.
For children and youth need good food to support their growth and learn about the importance of a strong food system. The Vancouver School Board (VSB) is committed to being the most sustainable school district in North America.
Are there more opportunities to bring in local, healthy, and sustainable food?
Farm to School Greater Vancouver is a cluster of Farm to School BC enthusiasts and supporters, including Think&EatGreen@School, who are working with key individuals throughout the VSB to come up with three to five goals that will help change the way local and sustainable food is purchased for cafeterias and food programs across the district. The Learning Lab Program in Vancouver is based on a successful model implemented by School Food Focus in the US. It is designed to help schools adapt their procurement systems to increase the amount of local and sustainable food being served to students. Vancouver’s Learning Lab, funded by Vancity enviroFund, is the first of several that are in design stages in locales across Canada. Each Learning Lab will work on specific issues within their region with Farm to Cafeteria Canada supporting the sharing of lessons learned, tools and providing assistance with communications.
Learning Labs work alongside existing local food programs currently occurring at the school level (e.g. school gardens) by helping the procurement staff to buy more local, sustainable food from their major distributors and suppliers. By working at the procurement level, the Learning Lab hopes to create positive change in systemic purchasing. Real change happens from the top down and the bottom up!
Learning labs will be held throughout the 2013/2014 school year to identify and implement procurement changes for the school board. A planning meeting with key players from the Vancouver School Board and Farm to School Greater Vancouver was held in November 2013; the first Learning Lab is scheduled to occur in the spring of 2014.