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What are We Feeding Our Children?

Great Kids Farm 1Where does our school food come from and how is it produced?

To investigate some of these issues, Animal Welfare Approved sponsored a one-week, three-city tour for the UK Dinner Lady, Jeanette Orrey.  Jeanette is credited with changing school food in the UK, and AWA sponsored this visit to promote cross cultural dialogue and share her experiences with people working to make change in several US school districts. Following two days in New York City, the tour continued south (via Amtrak), as Jeanette was guided along by AWA staffers Andrew Gunther, Brigid Sweeney and Beth Hauptle, joined Chef Bill Telepan and Nancy Easton, both of NYC nonprofit Wellness in the Schools. (Pictured above:  Nancy Easton and Chef Bill Telepan from Wellness in the Schools in NYC talk with Greg Strella, Farm Manager of Great Kids Farm, a part of the Baltimore Public School system.  The farm currently grows crops and raises chickens and goats.)

On Wednesday as the tour continued, we visited with the Baltimore City Public Schools’ Great Kids Farm and a Culinary Center where students in the program prepared lunch for us.  Tony Geraci has been lauded for the efforts he is making in changing food in the schools in Baltimore and his plans are impressive.  The visit was covered by the Baltimore Sun.

Train from NYC to BaltimoreOn Thursday we hosted a luncheon at the Arlington location of Jaleo (ThinkFoodGroup), and shared meaningful dialogue about school lunches with representatives from the Arlington, VA school district, Alex Ashbrook, Director of DC Hunger Solutions, Maria Enie and Brandi Horton from Vanguard Communications and others committed to childhood nutrition and school food. (Right:  Andrew Gunther, Jeanette Orrey, Nancy Easton and Bill Telepan on Amtrak to Baltimore.)

On Thursday, we visited Washington-Lee High School, a high school in the Arlington Public School system. Arlington is a county (and city) adjacent to Washington, DC, across the Potomac River. We were hosted by Amy Maclosky, Director of Food Service and Mary Beth Chambers, Assistant Superintendent, Management and Finance Services. We were impressed with the efforts being made by this school district and the openness to share information and desire to effect positive change. AWA is looking forward to working with Arlington to identify local farms and help raise awareness among the staff and students about “where our food comes from.”

Arlington Schools 1The trip concluded yesterday as Jeanette traveled back to the UK. We are all looking forward to the next steps and for the opportunity to draw upon her many years of experience in making change happen. More in depth coverage of the trip will be featured in our next newsletter. (Right:  Jeanette meets cafeteria workers at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, VA.)

During her stay, Orrey met with the following:

New York City Department of Education
Eric Goldstein, Chief Executive Officer for Nutrition and Transportation
Dianne Frankel, Director of Operations
Chef Jorge Collazo, SchoolFood Executive Chef
Stephen O’Brien, Director of Food and Food Support

Baltimore City Public Schools Culinary StudentsQueens County Farm Museum, NYC
Amy Fischetti-Boncardo, Executive Director
Michael Grady Robertson, Director of Agriculture

Baltimore City Public Schools, MD
Tony Geraci, Director of Food and Nutrition Services
Greg Strella, Farm Manager, Great Kids Farm

ThinkFoodGroup, Washington, DC
Richard Brandenburg, Kitchen Director

Arlington County Public Schools, VA
Amy Maclosky, Food Service Director
Mary Beth Chambers, Assistant Superintendent, Management and Finance Services

(Above: Students in one of Baltimore City Public Schools’ culinary centers proudly prepared a delicious gourmet lunch for Jeanette and the other visitors!)

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