Connecting consumers with their food

English: California AITC-A girl holds a beet i...

California girl holds a beet in the garden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is one of those ideas that makes you wonder: why didn’t this happen a long time ago?

With all the talk about raising the nutritional standards of school lunches and still too little talk about actually making them desirable to students (I’ve seen first-hand the waste cans in school cafeterias full of food that just came from the serving line), some media attention was focused last week on a program in California’s agricultural heartland to directly connect the farmers that grow the food with the schools serving it. In one instance you have the children whose families actually grow this food benefitting from it in the school cafeteria.

Elysia Fong and Jana Nairn formed Ag Link Inc. in 2010, according to the organization’s web site. The organization was recently highlighted in an Associated Press story that was picked up by newspapers large and small across the country.

According to the news reports, this is just one of several programs nationwide that are working to better connect the food grown on American farms with the schools that educate some of the same children whose parents work those farms.

What a remarkable idea with so many possibilities. Not only does something like this add a more personal component to the food served in schools, but the educational opportunities to now inform children about the food they eat and where it comes from are legion. No longer is there the excuse that children shouldn’t know and understand the important role American agriculture plays in their lives.

In California’s case, this should be trumpeted not only by the California Farm Bureau Federation and every county Farm Bureau in the state, but it should be a great opportunity to further promote and highlight programs such as the state Farm Bureau’s California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.

This is the kind of stuff American agriculture should be shouting from the rooftops as a means of connecting consumers with the producers of their food and fiber. What an excellent way to educate future generations about the important role American agriculture plays in providing healthy food for American consumers.

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