State lawmaker asks for more flexibility in school lunches
COLUMBIA - A new resolution in the Missouri State Legislature urges lawmakers to make school lunch programs across Missouri more flexible. It also encourages schools to utilize farm-to-school programs whenever possible.
Currently, Missouri schools receiving federal funding must follow certain mandates.
One of those mandates requires each student to choose a fruit or vegetable item from the salad bar. It doesn't require that the student eats the fruit or vegetable.
"My daughter's definitely one of those kids... Leave it on the tray then throw it in the trash," said Becky Strawn, mother of three.
For some kids, picking a healthier option isn't a chore.
"My son loves all the healthy food. I see him eating at the salad bar all the time," said Allison Chostner, mother and elementary school teacher.
The resolution, sponsored by state senator Brian Munzlinger, asks for schools, instead of the federal government, to have more power in deciding what their students are served.
The resolution also encourages schools to coordinate with local farmers in order to supply their students with fresh, local options.
Columbia Public Schools are ahead of the curve - they're the only K-12 school district in Missouri that received a USDA grant to finance a farm-to-school program.
That grant is valued at $99,935. This year, 21 percent of the food for Columbia Public School lunches comes from local farmers.
Superintendent of Bradford Farm and Research Center, Tim Reinbott said it's all about teaching kids where their food comes from.
"We've had a couple of generations since people really knew where their food came from, and what nutritional value each food has," he said. "If you've never tried a vegetable, it's important to start. I think almost every vegetable is an aquired taste."
Thanks to the USDA grant for a farm-to-school program, every 6th grader in the Columbia School District will visit Bradford Farm next fall to learn about healthy options and local produce.