Northup is a winner of a 2012 Mayor's Sustainability Award for her work with D.C. Farm to School Network. The program works with farmers and school officials to try to incorporate more local produce into cafeteria lunches.
Why do you want to see more local produce in school lunches?
The more that schools can buy from local farms, the fresher and tastier the food. But it's also an opportunity to provide a stable market for growers in the region. Also, local farms provide an opportunity for kids to get out and see where their food comes from. We organize educational opportunities for kids to engage in the farm-to-table process in a way that helps them understand where their food comes from and therefore make them excited to eat the healthy food that's showing up on the cafeteria trays.
Is D.C. unique in having this kind of program?
No. There are actually farm-to-school programs in every state, and there's a national network that helps to connect them all.
What is it that draws you to sustainability projects like this?
Sustainability is such a cost-cutting issue. When you're talking about supporting local farms and supporting farms that are working with the environment and not leaving the environment worse off, you're impacting soil health, air quality and water quality. You're impacting chemical usage in our food system. You're impacting the quality of the food that's produced, which in turn impacts human health. So sustainability touches on so many different issues like health, environmental degradation and antibiotic usage. Each one of us every day interacts with these systems, so it's important that we're treating our resources right.
What do you think about winning a Mayor's Sustainability Award?
It's truly an honor to have won the award and been recognized by the mayor. It's exciting that the mayor cares about issues that impact D.C. kids, the environment and the local food economy around D.C.
-- Jacob Demmitt