PortlandOnline

POL Government Elected Officials Commissioner Nick Fish
Bringing healthy food to Portlanders - March 2, 2010

 

Thanks to flickr user cafemama for the photo

In the March 2 Oregonian, 'Small bites' reporter Leslie Cole catches up with Michelle Markesteyn Ratcliffe, the state Department of Agriculture's farm-to-school coordinator.

 

Ratcliffe describes some of the changes made in the past few years: "A lot more fruits and vegetables are being purchased locally and regionally, not just fresh but also (canned and frozen.)"

 

She says that Portland parents might be surprised by how healthy some options already are. Portland Public Schools' pizza, for example, uses whole-wheat dough and tomato sauce free of corn syrup.

 

Ratcliffe encourages parents to learn more about the food their children eat at school: they should "go to school lunch and share it with their kids," she says. "I really think that people would be surprised by all the great changes thathave been happening across the state."

 

Nick is working on several fronts to bring healthier food to Portlanders. Last year he launched a new Community Gardens Initiative to help meet the demand for fresh, locally-grown produce in Portland (see the Community Gardens Toolkit on the left for more!).

 

He is also working on a new Healthy Snack Policy to bring healthy food to our vending machines and rec centers, and is exploring ways toprovide incentives to vendors for offering healthier food at public events in our parks.

 

This spring, Parks will launch a pilot project offering free, healthy meals to kids participating in after-school programs at one of Parks' rec centers. Parks is also partnering with Loaves & Fishes to offer low-cost, healthy meals in our Community Centers and will continue to offer free meals as part of next summer's Playground Program.