School Committee Pushes Locally Grown Food

The Cambridge Public School Committee pushed through a joint motion yesterday calling for the use of locally grown food and encouraging progress reports that assess the environmental impact of the policy goal.

Though Cambridge public schools have taken great strides in recent years toward a healthier and more sustainable district, "locally sourced food is an issue which has the potential to be healthier and more environmentally sustainable," stated the motion, which was penned by members Richard Harding and Patricia M. Nolan.

Members of the school committee said that they hope the policy goal will help Cambridge to grow more economically self-sufficient  by supporting local businesses.

Cambridge is already equipped with the resources to tackle the new policy goal, and the motion's passage will now encourage members to "think about the local economy" and take action, said Harding, who also runs the Men of Color Health Initiative. A new policy, he hopes, will help the school committee establish a baseline and examine areas where improvement can be made.

Before the recommendation was made at the committee meeting, Nicola S. Williams—a member of the board of Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston—rose for a public comment, encouraging a policy that promotes accountability for institutions that could better utilize locally grown food, and calling for the clear identification of such foods in schools and markets.

“We need a concrete goal with numbers,” said Williams, who is also involved in the Boston Local Food Festival event. “It’s probably going to take a year because the food bids have already been placed, but there can be some movement toward local foods.”

School committee member Alfred B. Fantini said that Cambridge "can be proud," for it has consistently prioritized healthy eating in recent years.

“We have valued nutrition for our children for a long time,” Fantini added. “We have long known that this links to academic success…We are a national model in this area."

—Staff writer Rediet T. Abebe can be reached at