Food for Thought -- and School Board Action

by Rochelle Davis, HSC Founding Executive Director 6 17 08

I couldn’t have said it better.

The June 08 issue of American Schools, the monthly publication of the American School Board Association, focuses on school food. One of the articles, “Children’s Nutrition is a Governance Issue” is written by David Tokofsky, a former teacher, Los Angeles Unified School board member and board member of the California School Boards Association. The article encourages school board members to give serious attention to their district’s school food program because of the important role that nutrition can play in a child’s performance at school.

He points out that schools seem to acknowledge the importance of breakfast, as many school districts offer breakfast on test days. He asks his readers, “What about non-test days when the children are expected to learn the information for the test?” (This reminds me of HSC wellness director Jean Saunders’ blog on test-day snacks.)

He also makes the point that a board’s key responsibility is as custodian of public money. This fiduciary responsibility requires school board members to understand the school food budget and review the operations of the school’s food program with thoroughness and care.

I was especially pleased that Mr. Tokofsky recognized the importance of school food staff. He suggests that a well-paid and well-trained staff is an important element to a successful school food program.

“It is not surprising when well-trained employees with a sense of ownership about their work actually reduce costs,” he writes.

Thank you, Mr. Tokofsky, for providing such good food for thought.


What Dog Walkers Should Know About Golf Courses

A neighborhood dog walker writes: "June 10, about 7am, one of the golf course employees drove by in a tractor which was pulling a spreader. He stopped the rig and told me that he was spreading fertilizer and Merit insecticide. According to him, dogs pads can absorb this, it lasts quite a while in the soil, but gets incorporated into the soil after the first inch of rain...."

From Ellie Goldberg, 617 965-9637

Below are some resources for you to read about Golf Courses and the insecticide Merit. Feel free to forward it to friends, neighbors and other dog lovers.

I believe golf courses should be required to give this information to anyone who uses golf courses, who live near golf courses, has access to golf courses (kids, dogs, etc.) , etc. (Especially in areas with elevated cancer rates such as Newton.)

(I also think there should have been a broad public notice when the Newton Parks Department used Trimec Plus on city fields.)

I recommend going to the
GreenCAP webpages for the Pesticide Primer for basic concepts before reading the fact sheets. http://www.greendecade.org/greenCap_primer.html

You might also enjoy this videopodcasts: The Truth about Cats, Dogs & Lawn Chemicals http://catsdogslawnsvlog.blogspot.com/

1) GreenCAP, The Green Decade Coalition/Newton's Committee for Alternatives to Pesticides

2) JOURNAL OF PESTICIDE REFORM/ SPRING 2001 • VOL. 21, NO. 1 15 l I N S E C T I C I D E F A C T S H E E T Imidacloprid

3) From Beyond Pesticides Gateway: http://www.beyondpesticides.org/gateway/index.htm

See chart

4) Toxic Fairways: Risking Groundwater Contamination From Pesticides ...The Attorney General's survey of pesticides used on Long Island golf courses .... (3) The actual rate of golf course pesticide use may be much higher than ...

Golf and the Environment
Beyond Pesticides' work on golf and the environment continues to be an important strategy for outreach to the land area with one of the most highly concentrated per acre use of pesticides. The extensive use of pesticides on golf courses raises serious questions about people's toxic exposure, drift over neighboring communities, water contamination, and effects on wildlife and sensitive ecosystems.

Beyond Pesticides serves on a steering committee that seeks to develop a collaborative strategy with the golf course industry in an effort to effect change. This group developed the Environmental Principles for Golf and the Environment. Increasingly, players and golf course managers are asking the right questions and looking for answers that result in meaningful reductions in pesticide use.

In what it calls the most important article it has ever published, Golf Digest in its May 2008 issue (pp 196-232) published an article, "How Green is Golf?," which asks the hard questions about the environmental impact of golf in a series of in-depth interviews, including a builder, golf course superintendent, regulator, environmentalist and activist - Beyond Pesticides executive director, Jay Feldman (read Jay's interview).

The article spans a range of opinions on water usage, pesticide contamination, and management practices, with general agreement that golfer expectations and management practices must move and are moving in an environmental direction, citing important ways in which attitudes and understanding must change.

Read about this article on Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog, "Experts Discuss the Greening of Golf Courses," April 17, 2008.