Drake Students Organize Over Cafeteria Food

Tam District considers cost over organic and sustainable food.


This weekend, the Marin Independent Journal ran a Voice opinion column from student Willa Murphy about the battle a group of Tam Union District students have been having for over a year with the district about the quality of food offered at Drake, Redwood, and Tam.

But, these students aren't just complaining about the taste.

In the op-ed, Murphy writes:

A question for Marin County taxpayers: Did you know that your tax dollars are going to multi-billion dollar food corporations like Tyson, and that you are bankrolling factory farming and its damaging environmental impacts?

Well, you are.

The argument Murphy and others make is that the district's contracts with Tyson and Schwan's goes in the face of many Marin ideals, like local food and sustainability.

In fact, the Drake Jolly Roger wrote about the movement organizing around the issue last -- a . .

The Jolly Roger article includes these illuminating passages:

Currently, our district participates in the National Student Lunch and Breakfast program, which is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This program involves serving food that meets Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs), which limit the calories, fat, and saturated fat intake as well as set minimum amounts of certain vitamins and minerals.

[Director of Student Nutrition Services Margan] Holloway chooses the companies from which she purchases, and says that switching suppliers would be a “matter of shuffling paperwork.” She receives over $20,000 in entitlements per year, and uses that money to pick ingredients and foods from a list of available food offered by the USDA. Among the products purchased and served in the Canteen are eggs, cheese, and chicken. Holloway also selects specialty items like pinto beans and marinara sauce.

The critics of the food served in the Canteen have objected to the practices of some of the companies the USDA uses, specifically the chicken processor Tyson.

In January, Holloway received the Silver Rising Star Award, which recognized her as a rising leader in student nutrition. The award is sponsored by Basic American Foods, Schwan’s Foodservice, and Tyson.

“Tyson actually has better quality products, which is why we use it,” Holloway said. “It’s not a contract; it’s just a choice.”

What do you think the district should do?

Pam Hartwell February 27, 2012 at 06:36 PM
As a parent with a student at Drake, I would be happy to pay more at the cafeteria for organic and sustainably raised options. Great work to the students organizing on this issue!
Eden February 27, 2012 at 07:38 PM
My child is going into Drake in the near future, and I would absolutely like to see options for Organic food made available to high school students. Whether included or paid for. Our grade school offers Good Earth organic meals, and although it is more expensive than non-organic it is so worth it. I would rather reduce spending in other areas of our household knowing that my child has a good meal during lunch. I appreciate these students and their passion to bring change to our schools. Going up against old values/systems/the status quo requires courage and great self confidence at this age. At any age! It's students like these that bring hope for our future - humans who don't back down in the face of resistance but keep their vision going. Go Drake students!!
Amity Hotchkiss February 28, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Thanks to Willa and to our own Jolly Roger students for bringing light to this important issue. Drake is, or was, a "Green Certified" School in Marin County. We should look at what that means and try to move our school, step by step, into an alliance with community ideals. The Tam District keeps dragging its feet on this issue! -- Amity Hotchkiss, Advisor to the Jolly Roger staff


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