Welcome to the Slow Food Orange County Blog

June 17th, 2010 by Heather Pritchard

We’re really excited to start blogging here at Slow Food Orange County so we can start sharing all the great local Slow Food news and the National issues as well, there is a lot more going on than you may know and this is the place to come and learn about all the issues.

I hope to also post about our events, share recipes and to get input from all our members who want to share what they know, what they want to learn about and to help grow our slow food community in Orange County.

Some of you may know that Slow Food USA has been working very hard to get some big changes in the Child Nutrition Act that’s up for Renewal in Congress with their Time for Lunch Campaign.   They’ve had over 159,000 people send emails to their congress critters to urge these changes but there is still so much to do.

And it was just this year that Michelle Obama started her Let’s Move campaign to take on the issue of Childhood Obesity, which is just one of the components Slow Food wants addressed in the Child Nutrition Act by updating the nutritional guidelines.

Well, another amazing initiative that Michelle Obama has introduced involves channeling the energy and innovation of America’s chefs and launching Chefs Moves to Schools program.  Here is the press release from the White House.

First Lady Michelle Obama Launches “Chefs Move to Schools” Program

THE WHITE HOUSE – As communities and organizations get behind the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation, one group that could have a tremendous impact on the health and well being of children is the Nation’s chefs. As part of her effort to turn policies into practical solutions for America’s families, Mrs. Obama is calling on chefs to get involved by adopting a school and working with teachers, parents, school nutritionists and administrators to help educate kids about food and nutrition.  By creating healthy dishes that taste good, chefs have a unique ability to deliver these messages in a fun and appealing way to the larger audience, particularly children.

The “Chefs Move to Schools” program, run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will pair chefs with interested schools in their communities so together they can create healthy meals that meet the schools’ dietary guidelines and budgets, while teaching young people about nutrition and making balanced and healthy choices.  With more than 31 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 11 million participating in the National School Breakfast Program, good nutrition at school is more important than ever.

“Many children consume as many as half of their daily calories at school and as families work to ensure that kids eat right and have active play at home, we also need to ensure our kids have access to healthy meals in their schools,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “We are going to need everyone’s time and talent to solve the childhood obesity epidemic and our Nation’s chefs have tremendous power as leaders on this issue because of their deep knowledge of food and nutrition and their standing in the community.  I want to thank them for joining the Let’s Move! campaign.”

“Chefs and nutrition experts can play a critical role in addressing the childhood obesity crisis, and they are welcome partners as we work together to improve the overall health and nutrition of America’s children,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By passing a strong reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, Congress can provide important resources to improve school cafeteria equipment and expand training opportunities for chefs, school food service personnel, and nutrition experts in our schools, because they will be on the front lines of improving school meals for our kids.”

“School cafeterias are the frontline for fostering a healthy lifestyle for children,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This initiative is a creative and vital opportunity for children to learn and practice healthy habits. When partnerships between schools and the broader community are created, everyone wins.”

Chefs interested in signing up can do so by going to www.letsmove.gov and clicking on the “Chefs Move to Schools” button. In coming weeks, chefs will be paired with a school in their community that is interested in using them as a resource.

Jamie Oliver lent his talent this spring in his compelling mini-series Food Revolution.  The series dealt with the challenges facing one communities struggle with obesity and health issues by helping the schools try to make over their lunch program.

Jamie focussed on home made lunches with less processed foods, unflavored milks and more fruits and veggies.   The idea was to get kids eating their lunches and enjoying them while engaging them with the whole process of where their food comes from.

One of the most disturbing parts of the series is when many of the kids can’t identify a variety of common vegetables that Jamie presents to them.  It illustrates just how out of touch some kids are from the food they eat and how much we need to address the school lunch program in our Country.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution brought much needed attention to the School Lunch Program and Michelle Obama’s ambitious new program is attempting to use this momentum to use the talents of local chefs in the community to help make change in our schools.  It’s brilliant.

I am hoping to find out how to reach local Chefs in Orange County to see if they might be interested in working with any of our local schools to try out this new program and see what they can do to help make school lunches healthier and tastier for kids.

Welcome to the Slow Food OC blog, I look forward to sharing more news and projects in the future!

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