In 2004, a young Orcas Island Public School student by the name of
Mikayla Forster, her father, Thomas Forster and her mother, Sarah Ross,
believed Orcas Island was a perfect place to implement a concept that was beginning
to take hold across our Nation - the concept that fresh, organic local foods BELONG
in our local schools and that our children’s physical and academic health
as well as the community as a whole would benefit exponentially by its
implementation. She made a presentation of the concept to the School Board and it was adopted.
This was not a new concept, but it was one that had been lost among the convenience of the production of highly process, inexpensive and easy to prepare foods. Many years of obesity, Diabetes, heart disease and unhealthy kids as a whole has finally reawakened us to what our grandparents knew long ago: food from the garden without lethal pesticides, prepared and cooked from scratch makes healthy, happy kids.
Since about 1995, this movement has manifested into new U.S. Government
departments charged with improving child nutrition in schools, and
organizations all over the country being established to expand local
farm to school networks. Government funds are starting to be allocated, fought
over, and distributed - which is very good news.
When in season, a limited amount of local, fresh produce has
been on our cafeteria salad bar since 2005; but, because of certain laws (which
have since been removed or loosened up) and personnel changes, it has not been
able to move past that point until now. Also, some of our wonderful teachers -
Anne Ford and Pam Jenkins to name a couple - have used our school garden as a
learning center and taken their classrooms to local farms and Camp Orkila on
their own to learn about where our food comes from and how it’s grown - and how
much better it is for them.
We have about 500 students, and are currently serving an
average of 190 breakfasts and 300 lunches out of one small and very old
cafeteria kitchen for all grades K-12, and we have no funding
"angels." We are supported
entirely by community donations through the Orcas Island Education Foundation
(OIEF) and any grants for which we qualify. And we have a
ready, willing, hard working cafeteria staff and a community of volunteers
eager to maintain a very valuable, workable and long-lasting
farm-to-cafeteria program for the Orcas Island Public School.
We have students
such as those in the F.E.A.S.T. program (Farm Education and Sustainability for
Teens, a summer program for Orcas Island Public High School students) wishing
to earn credit through experiences the F2C Program can provide, and we have
farmers who are behind us 100%, willing to plant and harvest for our needs.
We also have a caring community which understands that healthy kids who carry
positive values about food and nutrition are our legacy.