Good Food Life: Marla Moss
Marla Moss, Director, Office of School Support Services, Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and State Child Nutrition Director for Michigan - Lansing
What is your role at the Michigan Department of Education?
Director of the Office of School Support Services within the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and State Child Nutrition Director for Michigan.
How does MDE work towards the goals of the Good Food Charter?
MDE works with all institutions administering any of the federal Child Nutrition Programs by promoting Farm to Institution grants through our MDE communications, training on procuring and serving local foods and encouraging institutions to purchase 20% of their food locally by 2020. MDE staff also participates in statewide collaborations with other state agencies to further local purchases. Our organization nominates food service directors around the state for Produce Safety University, a weeklong course for food service directors to identify and manage food safety risks, taught by the Institute of Child Nutrition. MDE shares successes around the state regarding schools and other institutions that purchase local foods and include gardens as part of their local purchases.
What do you find most exciting or inspiring about what you’re doing?
Food service directors who work so hard to feed kids good nutritious fruits and vegetables and those that ensure our state’s future has access to Michigan food grown in our great state, inspire me.
What opportunities do you see for moving towards the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter and where do you see those leading in the next five to ten years?
We need to continue to increase awareness which will build champions for Farm to School/Preschool. I think we should concentrate efforts and resources in our day care centers and build awareness and acceptance before children enter kindergarten. With the new meal patterns soon to be issued, we will have the opportunity at the day care level to begin to introduce kids to fresh fruits and vegetables. I see more and more schools and day care homes/centers planting gardens as a means for education as well as introducing kids to fresh foods!
What is one thing you’ve learned through your experience with working towards the goals of the Good Food Charter that you’d like to share with others?
Food service directors around the state are the driving force for sourcing and purchasing local Michigan foods. If food service directors request or source Michigan grown, distributors are more likely to source locally grown produce for schools. I’ve also learned it is a daunting task to connect local farmers and food service directors, but I’ll never give up!