Parent University–Healthy School Lunches

I may be referred to as “the Garden Lady,” but it would be more accurate to call me the “Food Lady.” You may know that I own a restaurant and am a farmer.  That itself might qualify me to talk on the subject, but I’d like to tell you the reasons I know that the decision on school food may have more impact on the lives of our students than any other decision you will ever make for NCS.
By the time our daughter, Lily, was 3, I had a large collection of autoimmune disorders and was getting sicker by the minute.   I routinely was sick from August until April and frequently on antibiotics and steroids.  I took 3 inhaled steroids and 2 different prescription pills to “control” asthma.  When I was mothering a toddler and added on Fibromyalgia (body-wide pain–debilitating at times), Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and soul-sucking fatigue, I just got fed up.  I got tired of being handed prescriptions and just feeling worse.   I had always been interested in nutrition and I thought I was doing a pretty good job—-I had no idea what I would learn over the next few years.
Meanwhile, Lily was suffering.  No toddler should have constant stomach aches and be tired. So,  I went looking for answers for both of us.  I learned a TON and found excellent doctors and nutrition gurus. I found out my daughter reacts to a very long list of foods and controlling her diet means everything to her health and mood. Because of her extensive food issues, I was forced to feed my family nearly ZERO processed foods—NO small feat in today’s world.
Everything got better.  I learned A LOT and I still am.  In the past 7 years, I have rid myself of asthma, depression, sinusitis, IBS, fibromyalgia, 65 pounds (and counting), and fatigue.  I feel better now than I ever have and am improving all the time.  I only share this, so that I can tell you that 95% of this has been accomplished with good nutrition.
I follow nutrition info like some people follow sports teams. I read, listen, and experiment all the time. I started my own farm to heal my family.  It is the center of my life.    My bachelor’s is in Russian Civilization and my Master’s in Library Science, but my passion is nutrition and the natural world. Thanks to NCS, I have seen first-hand the power of good food (from seed-to-mouth) for a child. My personal goal is to connect as many children as possible with their food–from seed to plate.
Resources referred to or inspired by my “Building a Better Lunch at NCS” presentation on 4/10/2014:
EWG Good Food on  a Tight Budget—a downloadable guide to healthy eating on a budget
Real Food–Good, Better, Best—doing the best you can with what you have
Better Kid Food: Snack Girl
EWG Dirty Dozen/Clean 15: Guide that tells you what to prioritize buying organic and when it doesn’t matter as much
Food Facts–guide to what’s really in food and what to watch out for
Farm to School USDA site–about the Farm to School lunch program
Food Quality Guide from Balanced Bites
Rich Food, Bad Food — great grocery store guide to making better choices–HIGHLY RECOMMEND