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Farm to School

The University of Oklahoma campus is going all natural thanks to the Farm to School program.
Farm to School

Farm to School program

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Oklahoma Farm to School

Show Dates

Show 0846: Farm to School

Air date: November 16, 2008



Rob:  It’s been called the freshman fifteen, that extra weight first-year college students often gain from too much junk food and not enough exercise.  But a new effort at the University of Oklahoma is helping students eat better, and helping local farmers as well.  Russ Jowell starts us off this week with a look at an innovative program called Farm to School.

Russ:  There’s a fresh new program at the University of Oklahoma, one that’s giving OU students a chance to savor the flavor of the state.

Dorothy Flowers:  Most of the farmers are local.  They’re from Noble.  They’re from Norman.  They’re from Lexington.  We do have a few that are from the panhandle, but we don’t have any big co-ops here.  These are actually the farmers, themselves.

Russ:  Working in cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, OU is leading the way in becoming the first college in the state to include locally grown food in its cafeteria menu.

Chris Kirby:  I think it’s going to give our students or the students here at the university that access to that truly fresh, locally grown, full of flavor fruits and vegetables.

Russ:  Chris Kirby is the director of the Oklahoma Farm to School Program, and says the benefits of providing locally grown food to OU students are almost limitless.

Kirby:  There are a lot of aspects about it.  There are the social aspects of knowing your farmer, knowing the person that grows your food.  There are economic aspects of keeping dollars within your community or your state.  There’s the environmental.  There’s a big difference when you’re shipping 60 miles, 10 miles, versus the average 1500 miles that our food travels.

Russ:  But perhaps the most important benefit of the program is providing OU students a chance to sample new and different foods they might not otherwise experience.

Carli Lewis:  Not only do they get fresh produce, but they can kind of pull themselves away from the ordinary menu.  The more years that they do it, and bring the farmer’s market to campus, the more people are going to take notice.  And they’re going to participate more.  And I really think it’s something that’s going to catch on, because I know they have a lot of really fresh items here.

JB Pratt:  I think that when people get a local product, they get a fresher product, a more ecologically responsible product, and they help their neighbors.

Russ:  Producer JB Pratt agrees that while the program does provide students with a variety of different foods, it also provides Oklahoma farmers with a variety of different venues to share the fruits of their labor.

Pratt:  Well, I think it puts OU in with the mainstream of universities across the country who are realizing that supporting local agriculture and local economy is where it needs to be.

Russ:  Meaning trips to the cafeteria will nourish more than just students’ appetites.