February 2012

The junk food industry wants YOU to buy more, eat more and to tell your parents to come back for MORE JUNK. These companies spend billions of dollars marketing unhealthy products to “young customers” like you, while childhood obesity and other diet related illnesses are on the rise.

When was the last time YOU saw a commercial or heard a jingle promoting fresh fruits and vegetables? Help the BPS Farm to School Initiative give the healthy choice a voice by entering this year’s contest!

Food and Nutrition Services is launching the second annual Give the Healthy Choice a Voice contest.  Last year we held a poster contest and received over 200 submissions from BPS students (thanks to all of our artists!).  This year we are looking for 30-90 second commercials, songs/jingles, or public service announcements that promote the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy food choices in general.

All BPS students are welcome to participate! Click here for contest rules, guidelines and entry form.

Deadline for all submissions: Friday, April 13th, 2012 at 5pm

Prizes will be presented to the top three video submissions and the top three audio submissions at an award ceremony in late May/early June!

If you have any questions please contact Kim Szeto, BPS Farm to School Coordinator at kszeto[at]boston.k12.ma.us for more information.


Check out the latest commercial from director Dougal Wilson below.  Though it’s intended to advertise Lurpack Lightest, a low-fat Danish butter, the commercial functions as a catchy and colorful tribute to eating your vegetables.


Fresh ingredients at the Lilla Frederick Middle School. Thanks to Jay Manoli and his entire staff for a great pot of soup!

Boston Public Schools introduced a homemade Southwest Vegetable Soup featuring locally grown butternut squash last Thursday.  The soup, menued as part of the Farm to School Initiative’s Local Lunch Thursday Program, was warmly received by students and staff alike.  One Lilla Frederick School Student declared it “the bomb.”

Lunch looks delicious at Brighton High! Thanks to Annie Yong and her staff for sending this photo.

A hearty blend of squash, black beans, green beans and corn in a spiced tomato broth, the soup is served alongside a whole grain toasted cheese sandwich with milk and fresh fruit. In case you missed it, the Southwest Vegetable Soup will be featured again on the BPS cafeteria menu Thursday March 1st.  Can’t wait until March?  Give the recipe below a whirl in your home kitchen.

BPS Southwest Vegetable Soup

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 small onion, diced                              
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup peeled and diced butternut squash
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned                                                    
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup green beans                    
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn                                  
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (1 can rinsed and drained)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional Toppings:

  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Crumbled tortilla chips
  • Low-fat sour cream
  • Greek yogurt
  • Diced avocado

Heat a medium soup pot over medium heat.  Add the oil and onion and sauté 1-2 minutes until soft and aromatic.  Add the garlic, stock, tomatoes, chili powder and cumin.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the squash is tender – about 30 minutes.  Add the green beans, corn, and black beans.  Cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes just until everything is heated through.  Season with salt and pepper, top with desired toppings, and serve. 

Sadie Richards, a FoodCorps Service Member, started with the Boston Public Schools’ Department of Food and Nutrition Services in late August 2011.  FoodCorps, a division of AmeriCorps, aims to reverse the trend of childhood obesity through engaging students in agriculture, educating students about food and nutrition, and facilitating student access to fresh fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers.  Since August, Sadie has been working with the Farm to School Team at BPS and coordinating the Dearborn Middle School Garden, which was generously donated (and constructed!) by a team from Fidelity Investments.    

Sadie teaches a gardening activity block twice a week – Monday and Friday afternoons – during which she and her students do everything from garden maintenance and planting to taste-testing, food preservation, and composting.  Thanks to the clever construction of protective plastic “hoophouses” (and our unusually mild winter weather), the Dearborn Garden is still green!  Growing under the white covers is a diverse mix of crops including radishes, kale, collard greens, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, swiss chard, and pak choi.

When they are not tending to the raised beds, Sadie leads her students in a variety of food and gardening lessons.  For example, Andy Brooks, President and Founder of Bootstrap Compost, recently spoke to the group about his business, community benefits of composting, as well as the composting process in general.  Sadie led the group in an interactive activity which explored the 5 kingdoms in compost and the life cycle.  Later that week, students participated in a lunchtime collection of apple cores and orange peels for the school compost bin. 

In another recent workshop, Sadie’s students participated in a “pickle cook-off,” in which students tested two different recipes for pickled radishes.  The exercise not only flexed their kitchen skills, but also required some basic multiplication and knowledge of fractions. 

What’s next for the Dearborn Garden?  Sadie has plans for workshops in environmental and food justice, irrigation systems, and food and the media, as well as field trips to the Dudley Farmer’s Market, Boston Gardener, and Haley House.   Best of all, warmer spring weather will mean more time with hands in the dirt!        

Sunday January 29th the Museum of Science hosted a “teach in” about the U.S. Farm Bill, which is up for renewal in 2012.  Part of a year-long series on food policy, systems, and sustainability called Let’s Talk About Food, the event drew over 200 Boston residents.  Keynote addresses were made by Marion Nestle, esteemed New York University professor and author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety, and What to Eat; and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, a member of the Congress Agriculture Committee, committed to reforming farm policy with the interests of small farmers and consumers in mind. 

Ms. Nestle analyzed the Farm Bill from a historical perspective, tracing its depression era origins to its modern day subsidy of large agribusiness, while Ms. Pingree provided both political context and strategy for transformation.  In attendance were several New England stakeholders including the Boston Public Schools Farm to School Team, The Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, The Maine Farmland Trust, The American Farmland Trust, The Food Project, Project Bread, The New England Farmers Union, The Northeast Organic Farming Association, and The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project.   

For more information on the Museum of Science Let’s Talk About Food Series, check out their website here

Visit Marion Nestle’s Blog, Food Politics, here