There’s lots things to think about to prepare the kids for school each day. And maybe with the new year in motion you’re asking: what can I do to keep kids healthy, strong and ready to learn? Read on for some tips on what we can do to ensure school kids across the country have access to nutritious, tasty pesticide free food.
1 – Informed Choices Matter a Lot
It’s always good to know what’s what. For starters, are there really pesticide residues on fruits and veggies that can affect children’s health? In short, yes.
To learn more about pesticide residues, first visit Pesticide Action Network’s WhatsOnMyFood.org website. This handy tool — a “decoder ring for your food” — shows the amount of pesticide residues on specific foods. And it highlights the health impacts of exposure to these chemicals.
With this tool, you’ll learn, for example, USDA sampling found residues from 62 pesticides on conventional peaches. And of the residues found, 24 are suspected hormone disruptors and 12 are known neurotoxins. Also, in baby food sampled, peaches and pears have the most detected pesticides found (22 and 26, respectively).
This is sobering stuff, but important to know. Ingesting pesticide residues may be more common than you realize. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, food is the number one way most children are exposed to pesticides. And in a study done by the Center for Disease Control 93% of Americans tested had metabolites of chlorpyrifos — a known neurotoxic insecticide — in their urine.
To learn more about the impact of pesticides on kids — from food residues to drift exposure in rural communities — take a look at PAN’s Healthy Kids page. There you’ll find in-depth information, including our Generation in Jeopardy report. You will also find opportunities to take action, from tips for starting a conversation with other parents, to building momentum for policy change that will create a healthy food system (that is pesticide free), from field to fork.
2 – Support Farm to School
Farm to School is an amazing program that brings local fruits and veggies into schools. It’s part education, part school lunch program. And it’s been tremendously successful. If you’re interested in getting a program going at your kid’s school check it out here. Maybe your kid’s school is already one of more than 40,000 that are already up and running with Farm to School! If so, consider making the program even better by asking for more fruits and veggies to be sourced from pesticide free, organic farms.
For some inspiration, check out recent news from Marin City, California. They announced that their school district will be going organic and GMO-free — the first in the nation!
3 – Make it Really Local. And Pesticide Free
Start a school garden. Yes, you. Resources abound to support you through the process — and the impact is long lasting, not to mention fun.
To get you started, here are a couple of places online to check out:
Rodale OrganicLife provides a great nuts-and-bolts overview for how to start a school garden;
Click through to the Edible Schoolyard site to get ideas for all that a school garden can sustain tasty feasts, curriculum, skill building, after school programs and more; and
Take a look at the Food Corps grant program that has helped start over 3,000 school gardens through their partnership with the Whole Kids Foundation.
Getting excited about healthy food and farming is contagious! And you can see this all across the Mamavation Network. From packing lunches to digging in school gardens to talking to legislators, we are working for a food system that sustains kids in schools across the country to grow, learn and thrive.
Written by Johnnae Nardone at Pesticide Action Network.