Tag Archive | "Slow Food USA"

Slow Food for The Bridgehampton School

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The local chapter of Slow Food, a worldwide not-for-profit dedicated to local, fresh, sustainable foods, has organized a National Day of Action on Labor Day, Monday, September 7 – an Eat-In – to focus communities nationwide on the importance of healthy, local foods in schools. The local chapter, led by Emily Herrick of the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton, will host its own Eat-In at the Bridgehampton School from noon to 3 p.m.

Slow Food East End is asking participants in the “Eat-In” to bring a dish prepared from local ingredients to share with others at the event. Nutrition counselor and writer Alexa Van de Walle is slated to speak, with Caroline Doctorow and Tara Lea performing music.

“It’s basically just a community potluck,” said Herrick on Monday.


Boasting an edible garden and a Career Academy-based curriculum originally centered on landscape design – this year reaching out into botany and nutrition – students at the Bridgehampton School have been actively participating in the evolution of how food is viewed on the East End of Long Island for several years now.

According to Herrick, the relationship between Slow Food East End and Bridgehampton was natural, with Slow Food already hosting a potluck and screening of “Two Angry Moms” to raise funding for a greenhouse at the school. Slow Food East End has already funded the construction of a greenhouse at the Hayground School, also in Bridgehampton.

The national chapter of Slow Food organized the nationwide Day of Action in anticipation of the reauthorization of the Childhood Nutrition Act in Congress, which is set to expire at the end of September. In a letter sent to local legislators, the Slow Food organization notes that due to changes in food quality, production and consumption, the life expectancy of this generation of children is expected to be lower than that of their parents due to increases in obesity, childhood diabetes and cancer.


Slow Food is asking Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama to invest an additional $1 per child for each child’s lunch as a part of the Childhood Nutrition Act enabling schools to spend additional funding on vegetables, fruits and whole grains rather than the chicken tenders and hamburgers often found in school cafeterias. The organization is also looking for Congress to establish strict standards for food sold in schools, including in vending machines, fund grants for farm-to-school programs and school gardens, and establish subsidies that encourage schools to purchase locally.

As Herrick noted, without financial support from the federal government, the Bridgehampton School has already begun making inroads towards this type of nutritional model within its district, with the creation of an edible garden and curriculum geared towards agriculture, landscape design and this year, culinary skills and nutrition.

Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz teaches the landscape design course at Bridgehampton and has been working with students for the last two years with the end goal of having vegetables and fruits grown in the school garden served in the school’s cafeteria.

“What we are about at this point is bringing fresh produce into our school,” she said on Tuesday.

Carmack-Fayyaz said this year a culinary science and nutritional class will be taught as an aspect of science this year, with a focus on the science of how food is produced, botany, agriculture and nutrition. The Career Academy landscape design class, which has resulted in the Edible Garden at Bridgehampton, currently overflowing with ripe tomatoes, melons, basil, corn, herbs and bright with a variety of flowers, is a class that has integrated business classes, design courses, botany and mathematics. The nutrition course, which will likely evolve throughout the year, noted Carmack Fayyaz, will introduce science to the class with a lab course that will focus on cooking healthy snacks – snacks Carmack-Fayyaz said she hopes will eventually be sold in the school’s cafeteria.

“This year at Bridgehampton we do have Whitsons,” said Carmack-Fayyaz of the school’s food service provider. “We have been working closely with the Bridgehampton manager for Whitsons, Dan, and he has been great in cooperating with us to ensure we are introducing more greens into the cafeteria. What we need to do this year as a school is explore the economic feasibility of running our own cafeteria. We have to see if we can afford it.”

Carmack-Fayyaz said the district has already reached out to administrators from the Tuckahoe School District, which self-operate their own cafeteria. A representative from that district is expected at Monday’s Eat-In to talk to Bridgehampton School officials about how they have made the program work in Tuckahoe.

“I have to give a lot of credit to [superintendent] Dr. [Dianne] Youngblood for embracing this movement,” said Carmack-Fayyaz. “Bridgehampton is unique in that this administration has shown a commitment to these projects and have made resources available.”

“This is a collective movement,” added Carmack-Fayyaz. “We have a lot of great support for this across the East End.”

Let’s Eat

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With Labor Day upon us and parents all over the East End scrambling to buy notebooks and binders, back packs and new shoes in preparation for the first day of school, there is one other bit of back to school housekeeping that we feel is worth mentioning.


School lunches have long been a part of the American educational experience, thanks to the Child Nutrition Act which, since Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency, has ensured that children don’t go hungry during the school day. For a couple dollars a day, parents can send their children to school knowing they are getting a nutrionally sound meal in the middle of their busy day.

Or are they?

The fact of the matter is, parents would be pretty shocked if they saw what most kids in this country really eat for lunch — especially at schools receiving public money. You would think that federally funded food programs would provide kids with healthy, balanced meals. But guess what? Right now, the standards are pretty low. Processed chicken nuggets, fat infested fries, hamburgers made from meat that comes from who-knows-where, greasy chips and easy access to soda machines. No wonder there is an obesity and diabetes epidemic among young people in this country today.

Schools that accept federal money often have to take advantage of the food products provided them through their program — and in these budget-conscious days when everyone is stretching those ever-shrinking dollars, chances are, if there actually is a vegetable or a carton of milk on a student’s tray, it was likely produced long ago and far away using pesticides or artificial growth hormones.

Why are our kids being fed this way? Because it’s cheap and easy. That’s why. But guess what. We live on the East End of Long Island — alongside some of the most fertile farmland in the country (never mind that most of it is now in the backyards of weekenders – but that’s another editorial). Food grown locally and largely organically has become a way of life for most of us out here — picked up at weekly farmer’s markets or farm stands that are just a short drive (or walk or bike ride) away. The buy local, eat local trend has also breathed new life into the next generation of farmers here, ensuring that they will be able to stay and till the earth like their parents and grandparents before them.

So why is it as soon as we plunk the kids back in school, it’s OK to start them back on the processed food treadmill?

Quite frankly, it isn’t. Which is why the East End Slow Food chapter is hosting an “Eat In” potluck on Labor Day at the Bridgehampton School. Participants are encouraged to bring a dish made with local ingredients. Similar eat ins are being held nationwide on Monday and with them, Slow Food hopes to send a message to Congress encouraging them to update the standards of the Child Nutrition Act, which expires this fall. By updating, they mean getting real food into the hands and stomachs of our ever-expanding students’ bodies.

Slow Food USA describes real food as “food that is good at every link in the chain. It tastes good, it’s good for us, it’s good for the people who grow it, it’s good for our country and it’s good for the planet.”

Amen. Let’s eat!