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Improving student and community outcomes by bringing from-scratch cooking back to schools, supplied through restorative farming techniques.

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Tommy Morrissey

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Other

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Chicago

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

A rural school district in the rust belt, then slowly scale from there. The business models have been created to be scaled internationally.

What country is your selected Place located in?

United States of America

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

This is an area that has been hit hard economically in recent years. Many children experience hunger, and the majority of schools write a financial loss on their school lunch and breakfast programs.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

A child wakes up before the crack of dawn to catch the school bus. They walk by their kitchen, it's barren of anything edible, as per usual. They walk through the hallway and out the door. They see their friends, who are all hungry since they haven't eaten since the last school lunch. Once on the bus ride to school, they pass by abandoned buildings - relics of a time that has come and gone. They see vast fields of monoculture crops. They don't know that it's damaging to the environment, or that the majority of these crops aren't produced for human consumption but for that of cows, chicken, pigs, and the like. The bus pulls into the school, and the children get off and rush to breakfast. They're served a preservative-laden pancake drenched in corn syrup with an apple juice container with added sugar. The lack of a nutritious breakfast leads to poor performance and attention for the morning of classes. Luckily lunch is soon, the students can't wait to go eat a plain hamburger that bacteria won't even touch, covered in corn syrup and salt-filled ketchup. They also have a serving of potatoes, sliced up and fried. If they aren't feeling up for it, they can grab a greasy slice of pizza instead. The pizza contains a serving of fruit according to the federal government, the sugary marinara sauce counts as one. Yum, lunch is all finished this nutritious meal is sure to lead to a clear and focused mind, or much more likely it will lead to a groggy and distracted student. The students get back on the bus after classes and drive by the same abandoned buildings and monoculture fields. They get home and walk past their empty kitchens and to their beds. Repeat this scenario day-in and day-out, this is the reality of what thousands of students across the U.S. experience during their education path.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

15000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Currently, the U.S. has tough, and sometimes counter-intuitive policies surrounding the school lunch program, as well as farm guidelines. The U.S. political climate has strong opinions on how money should be spent on helping the less fortunate neighbors. There is a lot of red-tape to cut through, and hands to shake. The typical diet of children coming into the public school system will leave their tastebuds to dislike the taste of wholesome and nutrient-dense meals. In the future, if the state of the environmental climate is not properly addressed creating a self-sustaining regenerative farm will not be easy. Additionally, it will lead to exacerbated outcomes in terms of fiscal, and agricultural policies.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

While the path laid before us is not easy to traverse, it is feasible. By changing the cost of feeding students from purchasing meals, to owning a farm we'll be able to offset the financial burden that school meals typically have on school districts. Bringing to light a way to bring money back into the school system (and provide an additional source of food in food desert areas) we'll start to earn the trust of the community. Getting the students to eat the food while result in an initial backlash, a burger versus a butterbean cassoulet is a no brainer for a 6-year-old. However, when a human being smells real food made well their mouths water, it will be slow for them to adjust but study after study shows we truly do prefer real unprocessed food over processed and preserved meals. The future impacts of climate change, if left uncontrolled, will lead to us using one of the other business models that have been developed for this venture. In urban environments, and climates not suitable for outdoor farms, we will turn to indoor & urban farming techniques that have seen massive breakthroughs in techniques in recent years.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The long-term effects of this vision will result in better health outcomes, massive drops in chronic diseases, and better financial health for the school system, government, and the students. The short-term effects will include better health, fewer disciplinary issues in school, and better grades due to increases in attention, and retention of information.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Regenerative perennial farms throughout the country will lead to increased carbon capture, and cleaner environments. The environmental impacts will be exponentially increased through transparency, education, and equity brought to the youth of the world. The future leaders of the world will be seeing how properly designed systems can lead to better outcomes, both in the short and long term. The business models are designed to be scaled throughout the world. The vision is that by 2050 the program has been launched in every nation, and is well past its infancy in the United States.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

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