Farm-to-school program revitalizes children, city, & rural economy

The farm-to-school program at not only transformed a school district, but an entire community, says Riverside (California) Unified School District director of Nutrition Services Rodney Taylor. He believes the momentum generated from the local food and agriculture movement in Riverside can energize and transform the nation.

We can change the way people think about food and agriculture in America,” he said. “Riverside is a great city, but it’s a city with great need. Farm-to-school has a major impact on our community. A nutrition program can be a catalyst for change in a community.

In an era when small farmers seem to be squeezed from all sides and find it difficult to earn fair prices for their products, the Riverside Unified School District has answered the call in Riverside—last year, it purchased food from 19 area farmers. Taylor wants to increase this number and believes this kind of success can be replicated all across the country.

Looking to the time between now and the next GrowRIVERSIDE conference, MacArthur envisions more partnerships with the Riverside Unified School District in creating a local food hub, encouraging all area supermarkets to buy locally, and the start of an ombudsman service at the city’s economic development office for the city’s Greenbelt.

Riverside City Councilmember Chris MacArthur would like to see the city’s parks turned into edible parks, which would make water usage more efficient in their drought-stricken region.

There’s no part of our city that’s not ripe for some sort of agriculture,” said City Councilmember Mike Gardner. “The possibilities are really exciting and almost unlimited. I will see you in the garden—now, go forth and prosper!

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