Lamar Rice is among Buffalo Public Schools students concerned about the health and nutritional quality of food served in the sprawling district.
And the high school senior has decided to do something about it.
“They make the food in a centralized location,” and most of it is processed, he said. Cafeterias across the district where food once was made have become little more than “warming stations.”
That’s why Rice and dozens of other students in the district have joined Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities – Youth Advisors Council, which is pushing for more farm-to-school ties, local foods, efficient cafeterias and healthier food options.
Council members aim to play a key part starting today at the second annual Buffalo Food Policy Summit, a gathering of those interested in food availability from health, regional planning and economic development perspectives.
Food justice is a key part of the summit today and Thursday at sites on the University at Buffalo and SUNY Buffalo State campuses.
For information on associated programs, visit hkhcbuffalo.org.
“MAP and many organizations working on local food issues are excited to have finally established a food policy council for Buffalo and Erie County,” said Rebekah Williams, youth training director with the Massachusetts Avenue Project.
MAP tends to two urban farm plots on the West Side and has developed a Growing Green Youth initiative. Every summer, MAP uses city youth money to hire about 30 children ages 14 to 18 to work on its urban farmscape, help sell fresh fruits and vegetables at its farmers’ market and try their hand at cooking, often with ingredients that are unfamiliar to the teens.
At 5 p.m. today, Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities members will help lead a talk called “Just Lead … the Way to Better Way to Better School Meals!” at the Burchfield Penney Art Center on the Buffalo State campus.
The public is welcome to the talk, which will be followed by a panel discussion on food-related businesses and advocacy groups in the region. Both events are free and open to the public, as are:
• A talk titled “Just Sustainabilities in Food Systems Research,” from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. today in 105 Harriman Hall, UB South Campus.
• A screening of “A Place at the Table,” which will be followed by a panel discussion of the film that focuses on efforts to combat hunger in the United States; this event will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at 107 Capen Hall on the UB North Campus.
“We are very enthusiastic about having students lead the charge in creating a healthier school community,” said Assunta R. Ventresca, director of Buffalo Public Schools health-related services.