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Oregon Dept of Ag 012416

Jan 21, 2016|

AN INTERVIEW WITH AMY GILROY, THE FARM TO SCHOOL MANAGER WITH THE OREGON DEPT OF AG, ABOUT HOW THEY ARE GETTING LOCALLY SOURCED FOOD INTO OREGON SCHOOLS

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

This is metro style and Entercom radio Portland public affairs program I'm Gary Luck soon and today's show is all about getting the organ grown food. In the Oregon schools like to welcome Amy Gilroy with the Oregon Department of Agriculture to McChrystal underneath. I had thought don't create good thanks for having me absolutely so what do you do with the organ Department of Agriculture. I'm the farm to school manager and met the department of agriculture and my role is to help connect organ producers ranchers. Pitchers and processors to schools and that way they can get their products into the school meals program and you do that for the entire state worked. I didn't yet to statewide program my actually I have a counterpart at the Oregon Department of Education was also a farm to school and school garden coordinator there. And so our role is sent together to help promotes. In getting orient products into into schools so that's bonus that we spend the majority of our time on. That's pretty mum large because we have a lot of it pretty magnificent your culture and in dad. Laura's yes we do at Oregon has a very rich agricultural landscape and I have the awesome opportunity to work with. Up producers to grow the more than 220 crops come on thirties more than 37000 PME farms so. It's a really fulfilling experience to see you know food grown in or again and served in the in the school meals program or on a child's lunch play. What's the biggest crop and Morgan. My. Well be factually there right now is our top with a top produced well beef is the top agricultural. Commodity gas so. We are now we are we are producing more of beef although usually it's between I think beef nursery crops and Gary heirs are sort of in the top five. So am which are those deal will find them Horry and dairy products and beef in the school meals program especially children to what chief. Yeah until much cheese yep absolutely till let me add a lot of other local and dairies that you'll see. Served and in the you know in the in milk or liquid milk is often you know a lot of the milk and served in order again as some are in schools is from Oregon processors go out. So let's talk about farm to school what exactly is farm to school. So far just school began about ten years ago was the first state to passed legislation that created two find a school positions as I mentioned earlier one within the Department of Agriculture. And one with the department of education and basically there's three core elements. Farm to school one of those is school gardens so a lot of fire on women out. Give or 600 school gardens and that we know love in the state of Oregon and a lot of them are. Some places where children are learning about how to grow their own thing. I'm a lot of those guards are actually produced seen. Enough praise that they they serve that in in the cafeteria not. Ams we have quite a network of a school gardens so that's one and core components. And the other one is procurement that's basically what we mean by getting more or in products into the that the school meals programs so. School food service directors will. You know they'll seek out I'm orient products specifically and they get reimbursed up to a certain amount from the state program for the purchase of those. Of those products so that's what we call the procurement portion of the program. Okay. Is it if this sounds like a pretty cool program pretty amazing for a state isn't unique to Oregon or does this happen throughout the United States. There are other states that have farm to school programs and what's unique about or again is that we are probably the most well funded program in the country so just this last on legislative session. Are our budget for the program nearly could you could do both Kyle and so it's about a four point five million dollar program and I 80% of that is for. Is dedicated to reimburse schools that opt in for the program reimburse them up to a certain amount for. Purchasing art and products because oftentimes. Not always against seasonality comes into the picture but sometimes organ products may be a little bit more expensive so the idea is that. The the state funding helps them make up that difference in cost. And then the other 20% and 20% of that is for educational purposes which is sort of that third corps. Element of farm to school is educating children about the how to make healthier choices mom did that helps pay for nutrition and cooking classes. A lot of the school garden based education that we provide in schools comes from that education funding to about 20% of that is. Is dedicated to. Educational programming within the schools themselves. You say this is implemented about ten years ago. I'm what have what kind of changes have you seen over the seniors who'll buy them especially with students and us as one masking. Dwellers Tina actually what we're seeing is them more children eating eating at school were seen them actually. What we're seeing alleges get healthy areas seem more local items on the school meal they. But we're also seen as a result were seen. More children do may be come and haven't traditionally then choosing to eat at school now choosing to do that because their parents see that. The meals are tired of the mills are local they're healthier they're fresher and so. They are comment actually going back into town supporting. The school food budget because they're able to sell more school meals that way so we are seeing sort of a pattern in. More revenue for the schools by selling or school meals which is eight which is a huge bonus and they are also seen and those kids especially. Kids sick are eligible for the free and reduced meal program. They're actually able to get. There Ian that there are eating more frequently at school and they're getting healthier meals so those are the types and those are the types of results Christine. We're also seen them. Just by having that reimbursement I mean. And making Medford growers and producers making those connections with on school food buyers. Where actually seen that I am just what that small amount of reimbursement funding. Those school district purchasers and farmers are more likely to make a business build a business relationship and purchase more in our schools and our purchasing more as a result. So we're seeing them shift there purchasing patterns over time as well to buying more organ product. Even though knocking reimbursed for their actually you know putting that money back into the authority enough food economy. Sounds very sustainable and environmentally friendly and all that good stuff that we talk about all the time about saving the cleric as we're not driving style from. From across the country to bring it to organ schools for food it's it's kind of right here locally so how prevalent is found a school in Portland and in the state of organ in general. Well it's pretty much everywhere me and as I mentioned earlier we had a huge legislative win this past session and what that did was it dissolved. Dull program the way the old program is structured to make it competitive for school districts we actually dissolved that and made it. So that any school districts any public school district could opt in for. For the reimbursement portion of the program. So and so what believe what we did last fall is basically open that opt in period in and we had. 131 school districts of over 200 just over 200 districts in the state on opting for the program so. Am that represents more than 60% of public school districts and Adam. But of those sixty over 60% that's over 90% of all the meals served in Arkansas that represents a lot of the meals that children are eating at schools. Com and in the way the did not in am we're likely they are likely to be smaller schools and charter schools. And schools that we will we're hoping to work with over the next unit to figure out how we can bring them and pull them into the programming easily. And so we've got a lot of I mean a lot of the larger districts have opted in here in the Portland metro region and Hillsborough. Blake as we go for his groove. Portland public school has opted and I'm and then now one of the coastal schools a story although epidemic coastline in port or referred. On the way out to eastern Oregon north powder central hurting me a fossil school district so we have we have quite a few districts all over the state. Delays on the a win win for a loan from everybody really. Oh yeah absolutely I mean I think that animates a very popular program. School districts wanna make the right choice for. You know forum for kids and they also that any part of the reality is school districts have some pretty you know shoestring budgets so they've their very savvy. They. They pay attention to atlantis' wherein if it's coming from any. If they wanna maximize those funds and maximize their purchasing power to find local products and so that's really what we are. You know going to be working with them the next couple years to do to some that organ products now being served in schools. Much any pretty much everything I mean when you think about what Oregon is well known for in terms of its agricultural products I mean or in ground pears apples stone fruits. Winters lodge is a really popular item. I'm allowed to Tito's on heirloom potatoes from the Klamath basin and those there and served in schools onions. I'm Oregon is one of the US I guess its top producers of varies so maim Mary's Blackberry poison buried those are. High on the list and those you often see in schools although usually they're in frozen form a lot of time schools want products that come in are easy easy easy to handle also may be they've already been cleaned bosh they Ben may be chopped appealed. On and that's quick waited for them to get them into bomb into the meals of their preparing. Amber and other things like Barley salmon Pacific kind rock fish those are some things that we're seen live their schools as well and and so again those schools are pinot seeking those products out maybe they want them. And they have they wanna profile that. That product in there harvest of the month program which is sometimes what they did do they just focus on a few specific. Crops are products and they highlight those in their meals and you know send home information to families about. What they might expect to see in the school milk and that monster that week as a look at some things that we typically see. That's pretty awesome because I don't know about you but when I was in school we didn't have salmon. I know but neither did pretty sloppy doesn't Pee-Wee had teetered the and the floppy can't get a. And it's something that look like coleslaw on the island and that really I don't know lesser general was Simmons and but he also. Have a bigger PM I'm since this is the kind of a statewide huge endeavor for the U foreign department medical term assuming you have a lot of partners. That are involved to Tulsa to interpret. Yeah well we have incredible partners. Well first so we couldn't do this without our producers. So I would like to acknowledge them and you know they are of the state there primarily the stewards of the land and they are basically. I'm why this program is so successful if we didn't have farmers who. Who cared about getting more food into the school meals program meant that that we wouldn't have such widely popular programs said I do want a balance them. And take elitists the school in the states themselves I mean schools are are really he's champions for farm to school and we know that there are doing. Everyday and everything they can with really small resources to make the program a success. I work really closely with the Oregon department of education and I mention and am. With their friend to school on school garden coordinator on and it's really helpful to have someone who who works are there has a lot of experience with food service. And worked in the food service and she for many years and understands the realities of schools. I'm in the me a lot of nonprofit. Organizations that actually provide a lot of school garden based education in and work with schools to do that. And and weak sort of call them our farm to school technicians all over the state am and so we have them. The president up and down the alama valeo really down to southern Oregon. And you know they're really the boots on the ground sounding old there'd been other communities very well and they are constantly working to link up. Producers that have specific products or maybe they and a bumper proper you know they have something that. I'm schools want or need until they do they do a lot of that sort of brokering a hum on our behalf and so there. They're just awesome and we wouldn't be nearly as successful without them. And then we also work a lot of commodity commissions we have 23 Connie commissions that. In the state of Oregon and those scoop commissions represent a lot of that. You know they've they've ripped represented Tito's they're excellent crops and indoor again at the strawberry Blackberry commission there's just many many different commissions that we work with. And they their membership. Cells to schools as well so we worked a lot with them. Lot of people yes I'm physical and basically everybody and you know I would stay tuned and parents and volunteers and in the same families are critical to I mean we you know we understand that. A lot of times and you know that the that. Damage don't have maybe enough time to make sure that. You know that. That their child is is getting healthy meal every day in and this program is great because it's one way that. Parents can be confident that their kids are getting them healthy options at school. And and so you know we would like to involve parents and and the community as much as possible. I'm so a lot of times from a school programs have. You know parent says as volunteers. That are helping out with different school garden projects or maybe helping to organize. I'm a farm field trip with their local producer. And so it's really sort of there's a lot of failing gauged and an insanely component it's really critical. Onto teaching kids about them you know making healthy choices satellites throughout their lifespan Pam and then a lot of times you see that model lean. What we hear a lot of times is that kids are actually the ones that you know they're in the supermarket with their parents are there at the farmer's market they're saying oh I don't. You know I tried. Broccoli any mom and it was amazing and let's get some firm for dinner tonight so I mean a lot of times what's happening is we're seeing kids actually educating. The other educate their parents about making healthy choices that's some of the success of the program as well. That's pretty great. Now I don't wanna talk about the it does the school gardens because he got somebody that gives. Especially in and threw an urban environment like Portland you don't get a lot of exposure to a garden may be Finley don't garden is much bill lived kind of been compact condominiums townhouses or whatever we don't have. The big garden but there's gardens at school the kids can learn all about the right. Now yeah a lot of this the lot of the school gardens and you know some of them are our demonstration gardens where kids can come out and I'm touched and tasted plant for the first time and they can try different things in the car and say they can learn exactly you know how kerik rose I mean we have. Examples of family call photo novellus where. You know we baskets to go home and take a picture of where their food comes from and some things they just opened up the kitchen cabinets. And so it's quite a learning experience for child had to go out into a garden and and realize that this is actually you know Karen grows in the grounder potato grows in the ground and they. They get that bursts firsthand learning experience at that. It's also a great place for them to integrate a lot of science animal at a plant science and a lot of times teachers will do their lesson plans in and actually integrate the gardens in June there. Different DiFelice have been throughout the year and so that's another way for them to work and I'm some of their so their math and and science I'm classes that way. Actually threw one of our programs that we ran through the Department of Agriculture called food court. We lose we helped to provide a lot of school garden based education around comes around oriented app program and just last year I think we had about 2500 pounds of produce that was and harvested from the school gardens I'm in some of that was actually served in the cafeteria. So in some of these smaller districts where. You know distribution may be a challenge for them they can't miss maybe they can't some fine distributors that they can come and meet those minimum purchasing requirements for efforts specific produce they're actually growing their own pretty soon he's like a gardens and then serving that. In the cafeteria so there C mean they're saving money they're educating children about going food. And they're able take you know there are able to get in and healthier and healthier companies in the in this women's program. And what a cool thing they'll bring you write about your schools OK you know what. I grew this and it announcer even everybody yeah let's must be pretty exciting for the can get a lot of times older kids well we also see that some really cancel actually organize these tasting tables for the younger kids. Thank when there actually they will you know meld down chop and served fumbles samples of so Prodi is that they grew in the garden and that's a great that's a great mentoring opportunity. Great role smiling after Cheney for a those younger kids is locked in that's that's going to be such cool thing yes yes elements. So what does this ultimately mean for our farmers and state of Oregon as well. Well and you know so I mean a school market is just it's a steady to stable market for for farmers. About 45 million school lunches were served last year in Oregon so it's quite a bit of food that Smart move through the school meals program. And so there's an there's an opportunity there for producers. And the other thing that I am that I went to say about that is that you know it or in has an aging generation of farmers we actually have one of the highest. Median ages of farmers in the country and and so we know that it's it's really important that we educating the next generation of of producers and so a lot of times what we hear from farmers as. And loving it the kids came out to their farm or if they could come into the classroom or come to a school am. I train and get presentation about. Ranching or fishing and so we really we really hope I'm hoping to see more of those those types of exchanges between producers. And children who are potentially interested in careers and agriculture because they really are. Sort of that the next generation and we want to make sure those on opportunities exist so education funding that I was talking about earlier is you know that some of what it's intended to be used forests to. Help expose them a lot of chill is our children to come in threes and agriculture. It was pretty it seems a really important because what you save in agriculture is kind of important not as prevalent as it used to be there. Analysts the farmers are retiring and they're not being replaced. Yeah we did is we don't have as many farmers and tureen farming as we do leaving. So it's still prevalent it's still am I think one and seven jobs in or again our agriculture really related so we still are very much an agricultural state and we just have. You know in the generation aging cameras or not seen as many young farmers and treat it as a profession could. So a mile limit you to stunned food core would tell us more about to grow what does that. Yes so food Corey is a national service organization sort of similar to if you've heard about americorps health corps teacher corps. But it basically is an up an organization that provides and service members in net communities that they're out to throughout the country. We currently have ten service members that are serving here in in orient in the food core program. And basically went there their role as they work in schools and and they provide nutrition and cooking classes T steam tables. They do a little a lot of garden based education and then they also help schools find. And for care out local products really helpful how to allow with identifying farmers in their regions. I'm and we have them in we have them in eight counties. In Horry again so we have a couple down in southern Oregon and Jackson and Josephine county. Marion County we got you here and in the in Multnomah County. And then we have. We have one in Tillamook and then lean lane county as well. The truly critical to them. Yeah and they yeah they they love it they serve I'm an eleven month term and they they have the option of serving a second term it's usually. We see service members commit to one chairman and some of them do would you come back and inserted school's the right now or in about 35 schools. Come in those eight counties I'm sorry we axle have won in numb I'm in north potter book and out in eastern Raikkonen was when I was missing. And damned yeah we we absolutely love the food court program like I said they're national organization. And we see a lot of what I was we see a lot of those service members actually. I'm going nine names in food system careers which is really wonderful so we see them. Com going on to work as either school garden coordinators. Developing careers and agriculture public health. School food service so it's really an opportunity for them to kind of understand what's happening at the intersection between. You know gain more local food into the school meals program and improve being. I'm health outcomes among among our kids so. It's a lot of what they focus on it that says the health aspect of all is just so important. Oh absolutely this on the an amazing program yeah that's so it's a wonderful friend and the women's super excited to hear about from the school. Yeah yeah Gingrich thinks real short of that silly thanks for having me. Microscope is an Entercom radio Portland public affairs program on Gary blocks of if you have a nonprofit or public affairs organization that you'd like to let others know about you can email me. My email address is microscope at inter com dot com thanks for listening to metal still and enjoy the rest of your weekend.