Written and original published by the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council.
Since January, the PFPC, along with Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS), have been working with the Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic to produce a report of current laws & policies, as well as best practices related to the school food environment. Specifically, the Clinic – working from the great groundwork PPS Food Service has laid – is researching fundraising policies, share table practices, farm to school policy, and incorporating nutrition education into curriculum.
At the end of March, the Clinic Team, comprised of Ona Balkus (Senior Clinical Fellow/Attorney), Emma Clippinger (Clinical Fellow/Attorney), Daniel Edelstein (Law Student/Clinic Intern), and Henry Thomas (Law Student/Clinic Intern), rounded out their research with a visit to Pittsburgh. Along with PFPC Members from Let’s Move Pittsburgh, Grow Pittsburgh, MPowerhouse, Just Harvest, and 412 Food Rescue, the Clinic spent time touring the PPS Food Service Center, and meeting with the Food Service Director, Coordinator and Dietitian.
After visiting with the Harvard Team, Liz Henry (PPS Dietitian) shared, “the Food Service Department is always proud to show off our efforts in creating a healthier school food environment, and are looking forward to the best practice research that the Harvard team is putting together to help us address areas of opportunity.”
Following this visit, the group held conversations with Montessori (Friendship) and Dilworth (Highland Park) Wellness Committee parents as well as University Prep (Hill District) Student Envoys who have been working with faculty and staff to improve the school lunch environment in those schools.
Annie Fiscus (PPS Project Specialist to Student Envoys) shared, “The visit was an exciting opportunity for the Student Envoys to talk about the organizing that they’ve been doing around food at school, while brainstorming with experts in the field how they could take their efforts to a whole new level!”
Finally, our roving crew visited breakfast and lunch programs in action at Beechwood K-5 and Allegheny Middle School (Allegheny-West). We ended the visit with a tour of Community Kitchen Pittsburgh to learn about alternative models of institutional food service delivery taking place in Pittsburgh.
Reflecting on their visit, Ona Balkus shared, “Our team learned so much that I believe will make our final work product much stronger and more tailored to the goals of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council and the School District.”
We feel grateful here at the PFPC to have had this opportunity to work with Pittsburgh Public and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, and cannot express our appreciation to those who helped coordinating their visit. Stay tuned for the final report, coming this summer!