The School Food Tour Hits The Road

The School Food Tour Hits The Road

Fri 16 Sep 2011

Story by Sara Salo

Unexpected Influences

I am a conversation piece. I have embraced this reality. My unique cycling journey has a remarkable ability to engage passersby in brief but meaningful conversations.

Although I expected the first segment of the School Food Tour (SFT) to be quiet & contemplative, a chance encounter during day 1 (see “Mile 9” blog entry here) quickly revealed that down time was not an option. I realized that there was no need to wait for official SFT events, still weeks away, to start encouraging healthy change. As a lone girl on her bicycle in the middle of nowhere, I possessed the unique capability to reach out to almost anyone.

During my route through the mountains of Oregon and the Redwoods of northern California I have connected with grassroots food system reformers, nutrition educators, a cycling documentary filmmaker, organic farmers, parents and cycling advocates. I have engaged folks at farmers markets, discussed school gardens and toured forgotten plots with enormous potential. One thing is certain: people love to talk about food and bikes.

Each interaction is distinct in its topic, but my message is always the same: what can YOU do to improve your health and the health of today’s children? Don’t wait for someone else to make the change. Be the change. (Thanks for the words, Ghandi). I received an email the other day from a gal on the East Coast who informed me that “stumbling across your tour quickly made me realize that the way to get better lunches in my school wasn't to complain about the food director or ask someone to visit for a day, but to get a degree that could ultimately allow me to create change”. This positive attitude is exactly what I strive to encourage in everyone that I meet.

I happen upon inspiring tales daily and anxiously await my first series of school visits in Sonoma and Yolo counties. Interacting directly with students will bring a fresh perspective to the anecdotes that I have gathered thus far. Upcoming SFT activities will focus on school gardens, farm to school programs, bike+walk to school events and local food systems. Stay tuned as I pedal my way through Northern California and connect with good food advocates young and old across the region.

About the author: Sara Salo is the creator of The School Food Tour and an ardent healthy kids advocate based in Bend, Oregon. She has just embarked on her 6,000-mile bicycle tour across America during which she is engaging a diverse group of communities and students in conversations about healthy eating and encouraging advocacy for change.

Image credits: Left – Sara Salo | Right - Erik Urdahl, Urdahl Photography


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