by intern Christine Binder
Since September 2009, Slow Food members and supporters have sent over 111,000 letters, emails, and petition signatures to Congress in support of healthier school food. At Summit Academy Youngstown Community School in Youngstown, Ohio, students wrote letters and mailed them to Senator Sherrod Brown. Recently, one of Sen. Brown’s representatives responded with a visit to the school. Barbara Pagani, a teacher at Summit Academy, told us the story of his visit:
“Max Blachman, assistant to Senator Sherrod Brown, visited Summit Academy Youngstown Community School on Monday, March 29, 2010. When he called to set up the meeting, he said he had received our very sweet series of notes and was calling to introduce himself. He asked if he could visit and sit down to meet the students behind the letters. He said he would like to close the loop on our outreach to the Senator. When he arrived at our building, the students gave him a warm welcome and Mr. Blachman was warm right back!
Mr. Blachman gave a great talk about democracy and how we had just become involved in our country’s direction by contacting a Senator. He did a great job of explaining the way the government works and what it can do for the students. He took a look at the food we were having for breakfast and politely declined. Mr. Blachman answered about 50 questions from the students. He used words that even the youngest student could understand. He took the time to walk outside and look at our school garden. Mr. Blachman was so warm and friendly that our students came away with the idea that representatives from our government are cool. It was an assembly that our students will never forget.”
Contacting Congress about school lunches is a great way for kids (and adults) to make their voices heard on an issue where their health and their futures are at stake. Congress is set to pass a Child Nutrition Bill this year, which means we have a short window of opportunity to encourage legislators to invest in healthier food, strengthen nutrition standards, and support Farm to School programs.