Feed kids first, then save world

Boston Herald - - OPINION -

The Bos­ton City Coun­cil is look­ing to re­think the way we feed our kids. The plan is to adopt an or­di­nance called the Good Food Pur­chas­ing Pro­gram, in use in other big cities around the U.S., in­clud­ing Chicago and Los An­ge­les. The GFPP would fea­ture lo­cal pur­chas­ing pref­er­ences and avoid busi­nesses with la­bor vi­o­la­tions as well as put stan­dards around an­i­mal wel­fare and healthy foods.

To say it a dif­fer­ent way, the byprod­uct of feed­ing kids in Bos­ton would be chang­ing the world for the bet­ter.

The Good Food Pur­chas­ing Pro­gram is a “co­or­di­nated lo­cal­na­tional ini­tia­tive that har­nesses the power of pro­cure­ment to cre­ate a trans­par­ent and eq­ui­table food sys­tem, which pri­or­i­tizes the health and well-be­ing of peo­ple, an­i­mals, and the en­vi­ron­ment.”

It sounds ex­pen­sive, es­pe­cially for a city per­pet­u­ally grap­pling with school fund­ing and other bud­getary chal­lenges.

Buy­ing “lo­cally sourced” food can be very, very costly. The GFPP pro­motes ways to off­set the bur­den with things like “Meat­less Mon­days” or smaller por­tions. We ques­tion pri­or­i­tiz­ing lofty con­cep­tual goals like a “trans­par­ent and eq­ui­table food sys­tem” over feed­ing a child a meat pro­tein and a ro­bust por­tion.

Also, it is cu­ri­ous as to why there is a strain of so­cial en­gi­neer­ing at play in what should be a sim­ple, fun­da­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity to feed chil­dren. Ac­cord­ing to the GFPP, ven­dors and sup­pli­ers serv­ing Bos­ton would need to “Pro­vide safe and healthy work­ing con­di­tions and fair com­pen­sa­tion for all food chain work­ers and pro­duc­ers from pro­duc­tion to con­sump­tion.”

Fair com­pen­sa­tion? Al­though there may be noth­ing wrong with that in the­ory, what on earth does it have to do with feed­ing our kids? Is it a co­in­ci­dence that the GFPP is in part­ner­ships with sev­eral la­bor unions and ac­tivist work­ers’ or­ga­ni­za­tions? A crit­i­cal glance would sug­gest that this ini­tia­tive is, in part, de­signed to bol­ster union mem­ber­ship.

Maybe the Bos­ton City Coun­cil means well, but there’s the ap­pear­ance that they are lever­ag­ing the lu­cra­tive pur­chas­ing power around feed­ing school kids to af­fect large-scale po­lit­i­cal and so­cial change in the re­gion, ex­tend­ing far be­yond Bos­ton.

Last month it was the “fair work­week” bill that sounded good in name but was odi­ous in re­al­ity. Now we are pre­sented with the Good Food Pur­chas­ing Pro­gram.

The Bos­ton Pub­lic Schools have plenty of problems to tackle that more di­rectly im­pact their stu­dents’ learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment. We’d like to see a price tag on this ini­tia­tive and an ex­pla­na­tion as to why the goal of feed­ing Bos­ton’s school chil­dren is teth­ered to af­fect­ing larger so­cial change.

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