My name is Colleen. I just graduated from Boston College in May where I was studying environmental geoscience, exploring the understanding of sustaining the earth as a habitable planet. Now, I’m working with Organic School Project in an effort to make sustainable, healthy changes to the food service programs in the Chicago Public Schools by incorporating local, organic food and nutrition education.
I first became interested in this cause through the importance of local food. Through my earth studies, I came to understand how devastating industrialized agriculture can be to the environment. It uses huge amounts of water, industrial chemicals and energy. Trucking produce across the state, growing the same plant on the same piece of land over and over again and the dangerous chemicals used to fertilize all take a toll on the earth and ultimately affect the health of the planet and the nutrients in each product we eat. Eating local reduces some of these stresses and also provides tastier food!
This preference for local food has been ingrained in me since childhood. For as long as I can remember, my dad has grown fruits and vegetables in our very own garden, each year. I LOVED the summer months because it meant cherry tomatoes (my favorite food) from right in the backyard! They tasted so sweet and had a comparable difference to tomatoes we ate from the grocery store the rest of the year. This same difference can be tasted in local produce that is in season compared to produce that is shipped thousands of miles all year round. How great would it be if everyone could have this experience of better tasting, better for you, food?
Coming to OSP, I am learning quickly about the current youth-health issues in Chicago due to lack of proper nutrition and the many challenges that go along with changing the system. Improving school lunch is not only about wanting to provide our kids with better meals, it is also about getting the kids to know the importance of proper nutrition and to consciously make healthier food choices. As always, there are obstacles to changing a system, including the high cost of better food. OSP is working hard to meet these challenges, as we embark on a new project that will help make implementing these changes easier by providing schools with the necessary information and steps needed to execute healthier meals and bring about healthier kids.
Other exciting things coming up involving OSP:
Jack Johnson Concert
- The Organic School Project is giving away free tickets to see Jack Johnson live at Alpine Valley on Saturday, July 24th!! Make a donation today and be entered to win!
- Organic School Project inspired documentary chronicling the challenges of healthy school lunches. Second Chicago screening date/time/location TBA
We are always looking for people to help out, so leave comments, volunteer, contact us! Keep reading to stay up to date on this important issue!