Food banks are bringing local farmers and school districts into collaborative programs that offer benefits for each of them and the communities they serve, leaders at three food banks said during a National Farm to School Network webinar.
The arrangement allows farmers to find new and sustainable markets along with ways to transport crops; food banks widen their community reach and schools get fresh produce for cafeterias and a new curriculum that gives students hands-on learning about agriculture and nutrition.
Phoebe Kitson, program manager for the Chester County Food Bank in Exton, Pa., said the food bank worked with the county park system to create an outdoor classroom where students learn about farming and nutrition.
There is a raised-bed garden program and students grow produce for their school cafeterias and for teachers to use for classroom projects.
The food bank, which has a local farmer on staff, also has land on five local farms where students go to learn about agriculture. (read more…)
Tis the season to party and companies are starting to do just that again, according to a new survey from executive search firm Battalia Winston, which found 96% of U.S. companies will throw holiday parties this year. That’s up from a post-recession low of 74% in 2011 and nearly on par with the all-time high of 97% hit in the boom years of 1996 and 1997.
Some 42% of respondents say they’re throwing a shindig to boost employee morale while 38% profess to partying in celebration of a good year for the company, a statistic that dovetails with the separate finding that 70% of companies surveyed said they’re on track to grow and hire next year.
Still, most companies aren’t socking in cases of champagne and tins of caviar for the occasion — 83% said they’ll stick to the same budget as last year and 10% plan to spend less on this year’s parties. (read more…)
It’s been another uncertain year for consumer spending, the strength of the economic rebound, the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act and food trends that may shift dining traffic patterns.
Now eateries are gearing up for the holidays, starting next week when more than 33 million Americans are expected to get some part of their Thanksgiving dinner from a restaurant, according to the National Restaurant Association, which also expects business to boom on Black Friday and again around Christmas and New Year’s.
In tandem with the holidays, the season for giving fast approaches, and restaurants are once again ahead of the curve. Many kicked off the fall by participating in Dine Out for No Kid Hungry in September, a campaign that set a goal to raise at least $10 million this year to further the cause of making sure low-income children have enough to eat.
The effort brings attention to the social good the industry does, but restaurants’ charitable efforts don’t necessarily follow a calendar. (read more…)
The FBI is taking a bigger interest in U.S. food safety, focusing specifically on intentional contamination and spending more resources on tracking incidents, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Thomas Rosato said during a briefing held by the University of Minnesota’s National Center for Food Protection and Defense.
While the FDA and other agencies focus on incidents of foodborne illnesses from produce or other products, the FBI steps in when when a person or organization tampers with the food supply, for reasons ranging from terrorism to economic motives.
“It starts with an understanding that we are in a fight,” Rosato said. “There are people who would try to harm and terrorize through the food system.”
The FBI has a food defense mission and can assign thousands of agents for a “surge” in the event of a major threat to the food supply. A response would be national and yet also run out of FBI field offices, using the agency’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces, Hazardous Evidence Response Teams and agents specializing in intelligence analysis. (read more…)