• Melanie Smith-Bell

Creating a Healthy Community with Food

The idea of food as a nurturing force is familiar to anyone who has shared a meal with family and friends, and hopefully that means each one of us. This first hand account of the experience of a cafeteria site manager at FCPS nurturing our students in school by supporting their health speaks to how much what we feed our children matters.

The reason I do what I do is solely to provide the kids with the best possible meals! I love what I do, but I can see that there is so much more that we could be doing, and I think that we are on the way to making great things happen! I want to be as active of a member on this planning team as possible.

Here is some background about me that might help you to understand why I think Farm to School matters. I'm a single mom with two kids in the public school system, and money is always tight. My kids and I depend on the free school meals. Also, I am a diabetic. When I was diagnosed with diabetes I was put on insulin. I made the decision to change my diet to get off of insulin because I knew at my age the insulin that was keeping me alive would eventually have adverse effects. That challenge helped me to better understand the healing power of food. Food is not only essential to life, but it can heal. I was able to stop taking insulin and have been able to sustain my health with diet for the last six years. I look at my kids and know that my path is not far from where they will journey if the meals they consume do not change. I wish that I could provide three nutritious meals a day to sustain their needs, but as I previously mentioned, I depend on the school meals more than some.

I don't know exactly what I can do, but I feel like this is where I am supposed to be, and that I can help Farm to School. I love the idea of bringing better food to the kids by using local products. Many of the challenges and solutions we are going to tackle may require us to do things that have never been done before, but I am up for that and I am 100% committed.

From all of that, I hope that you know that I will work tirelessly to help Farm to School achieve this dream. Please feel free to ask me for anything to aid in this process.

We thank her for her powerful statement about the healing power of food, and her commitment to using her personal experiences to make a difference for our students.

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