By Dr. Barbara Ferrer

Here at the Boston Public Health Commission, we are so excited for the second annual national Food Day celebration! This year’s theme: “Boston Eats its Greens.”

We are asking everyone to join us in eating a least one serving of leafy greens. In addition, our many partners across the city are offering their communities a delicious dish of greens today, as well.

Food Day gives us an opportunity to make sure that we identify ways to encourage even more families, schools, child care centers, hospitals, workplaces, and communities to serve greens and other healthy foods throughout the rest of the year.

Here are a couple examples of the exciting things we’re already doing in Boston to increase access to greens and other fresh produce in city neighborhoods:

  • The Dudley Greenhouse, a 10,000 square foot micro-agriculture community structure, was developed as a partnership between The Food Project and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At least ninety community members have gotten involved.
  • Over the past three years, 650 backyard and community garden plots have been established in the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.
  • The city’s Boston Bounty Bucks initiative provides double value for the use of SNAP at one of 24 farmers markets. In 2011, more than 1,600 low-income customers spent $56,486 in Boston Bounty Bucks incentives and $63,615 in SNAP at farmers markets.

This year on Food Day, we want to make sure local children and families have access to fresh produce. We are excited for a couple of special events this week to highlight the importance of healthy eating:

  • Boston Public Schools will serve fresh greens in some cafeterias as part of the weekly Local Lunch Thursday program.
    • Eight schools will host Jillian the Giraffe to talk about the importance of fresh fruit and vegetables as part of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program.
    • FoodCorps Apprenticeship youth (6th grade students from Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School) will prepare and taste kale and collards next Tuesday as part of their afterschool Citizen Schools program.
    • Dearborn Middle School students will prepare and taste kale or collard greens that were grown by students and FoodCorps service members in their school garden.
  • ABCD Head Start will be serving greens from local farms to young children, distributing kale to parents along with a cooking demonstration for them to learn about preparing greens at home. In addition, all Boston Head Start students will be eating greens for lunch and learning about the Food Day principles.
  • Supermarket tours will provide opportunities for community residents to learn about purchasing quality produce and other foods on a budget, like greens and other vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

Our hope is that the healthy and tasty lessons learned this week – combined with our efforts to make fresh, local produce more easily accessible – will help motivate Boston families to eat their greens all year long. See you in the (community) garden!

Dr. Ferrer is the executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. This blog was originally posted at www.foodday.org

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