As Americans have realized the health and environmental benefits of eating food without pesticides, organic food has increasingly made its way into more homes and schools. Organic foods sales have increased 17 to 21% since 1997.
Various campuses at the University of Minnesota are finding ways to bring these healthy, organic foods to their students. In Morris, Sandra Olson-Loy, Vice Chancellor for student affairs wrote the use of sustainable and locally grown foods into their contract with Sodexho.
Miles away, the Twin Cities U of M campus is offering local and organic foods from the students to the students with produce from their organic farm, Cornucopia and the Dairy Food Products department.
Healthier food choices have also made their way into K-12 schools in Minnesota, including Hopkins public schools. They aim to provide students with healthier choices, including more fruits and vegetables, organic pizza crust and organic milk options.
Some raise concerns about the 30% increased cost of bringing organic foods into public schools. Yet, according to Anne Cooper, the former director of Wellness and Nutrition for a New York public school, “We spend $50 billion on diet ads, $110 billion on fast food, and over $115 billion on diet related illnesses. We truly can change the paradigm by making nutritious, delicious food and nutrition education a priority in our schools. In fact, we can’t afford not to.”
Currently attempting to help obtain this change, is the non-profit organization Veggie U. They aim to “change students eating habits one classroom at a time”. They partner with schools across the country to implement healthy food programs, food service and nutrition education. To learn more about Veggie U visit veggieu.org.