Philadelphia’s Farm to School program expands
by lee stabert

Over the last few years, school lunch has scored a prominent place in the national dialogue—whether it’s Michelle Obama’s initiatives, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution or “Fed Up With Lunch,” a Texas teacher’s disturbing blog documenting the daily menu at her school. It’s also an issue that’s poised to affect a growing number of local schools.

Last September, Grid ran a cover story on the state of school lunches in Philadelphia with special focus on the school district’s nascent Farm to School program. We promised to bring you an update, and are happy to be the bearers of good news.

Last fall, the pilot program—a partnership between Fair Food, the Food Trust and the Health Promotional Council—served five schools: School of the Future, University City, Overbrook, Central and Girls’ High. Now it has been announced that, thanks to increased funding from regional sources, including the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the program will expand drastically this fall to include 23 district schools.

“The schools will be purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables for use in their meals,” explains Fair Food Farm to Institution manager Deb Bentzel. “I’m being specific about that because there are a lot of snack programs and other things, but the district is really taking a big step towards actually changing the way they’re viewing what’s on the plate for lunch.” The schools will purchase the produce weekly through Common Market, a Philadelphia wholesale distributor specializing in local food. The district has also committed $50,000 from their budget for the initiative.

The Farm to School program aims to be comprehensive, going beyond simply offering the fresh option. “There’s going to be a lot of good marketing and messaging around this healthy food to the students, the parents and the school community,” says Bentzel. “The ultimate goal is to figure out a way to make a program like this sustainable in the long term.”

Recycling Revolution

Big changes are coming to your curbside

In an exciting move for Philadelphia’s recyclers—especially those who love yogurt—Waste Management, a national powerhouse, is set to take over the city’s recycling processing. As of August 1, they will replace Blue Mountain, saving the city money per ton of recyclables and drastically expanding the list of items you can toss into your blue bin; all plastics No. 1 through 7 will now be accepted curbside. For more information, visit

Now accepted
No. 1s & 2s with no neck

No. 3 vinyl blister packs

No. 4 lids, bottles, small toys, etc.

No. 5 yogurt-style tubs, medicine bottles, caps and lids, etc.

No. 6 any polystyrene that isn’t styrofoam

No. 7 bottles and jugs


Bottle caps

Small plastic toys

Five-gallon buckets/kitty litter buckets

Aluminum foil/pie tins/baking tins

Hardcover books

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