Columbia Board of Education Candidates Discuss Cafeteria Food
The Columbia Daily Tribune asks school board candidates which improvements they would like to see in school lunches. One candidate mentions local food in his response:
Nutritional Services is working with vendors to provide food and educational opportunities from local food producers and farmers to reduce the impact CPS has on the environment and to educate students about where their food comes from.
The assertion that local food is superior for environmental reasons comes up often in local food debates. To understand why districts should not conflate local food with environmentally friendly food, I recommend reading Caitlin Hartsell’s excellent post about why growing food closer to consumers is not always better.
In addition to in his claim that local food is better for the environment, the candidate says that purchasing food locally will teach students where their food comes from. I don’t know how he expects the food to do that. From the students’ point of view, food from Missouri looks the same as food from Illinois or food from Indiana. Of course, teachers could point out to students where the food originated from, and they could conduct lessons on where the food was cultivated and harvested — but they could do that just as well if the food came from a different state. In fact, if the place where cafeteria food is grown is to become a subject of study, it might be better to buy food from a distance. That way, students can learn about a place with which they wouldn’t otherwise become familiar, instead of focusing their local area, which they already know something about from experience.