While the vast majority of food on supermarket shelves in the United States, and in school lunches for that matter, contains ingredients from crops that have been genetically modified, five school districts in the ‘Land of 1,000 Lakes’ are taking the initiative to give parents and students more choice in the foods they’d like to eat.
According to a press release from Bertrand Weber and Laura Metzger of Minneapolis Public Schools, schools in Hopkins, Minneapolis, Orono, Shakopee and Westonka districts will celebrate November 5’s GMO Awareness Day by offering non-GMO menu options and communicating to students and families about GMOs.
“We want to start conversations about the foods we serve and how our decision-making works,” says Laura Metzger, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Westonka Public Schools.
“Our students will grow up to make their own decisions about the foods they eat, so this is an opportunity for education.”
School Staff Meets, Decides to Hold Awareness-Raising Event
The event came about as the brainchild of director-level staff members at the five districts, who met in April 2014 to hold a collective awareness-raising event to help engage the local communities.
“Though there’s been little research on the human health impacts of GMO consumption, animal feeding studies have linked GMOs to cancer, allergies, infertility, and more,” the press release stated.
Weber, who is the Director of Culinary and Nutrition Services at the Minneapolis Public Schools, said he’s noticed an increasing amount of conversation surrounding the issue.
“Many of us are already working to reduce food dyes and additives and bring in produce from local farms,” Weber said.
“Reducing GMOs is another way we can support kids’ long-term health.”
The district’s nutrition directors are now communicating non-GMO preferences to vendors and distributors, switching to non-GMO cooking oils and working to eliminate ingredients that may be genetically modified.
“It’s been great to collaborate with other districts on this effort,” Metzger says.
“It’s allowed us to share ideas and make sure we’re not reinventing the wheel.”
The five districts serve a total of about 56,700 meals per day according to the press release.
P.S. What do you think about this initiative, and do you think that schools near you would be open to a similar change? Let us know in the comments section.