Farm to Market teaches students healthy food choices

Jenny Chavez, program coordinator for the SNAP-Ed program, hands out samples of fruits and vegetables to students at Windy River Elementary School in 2014 in Boardman.

A tip of the hat to Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, and other lawmakers for the passage of House Bill 2579, one of those rare feel-good pieces of legislation that makes a real difference. Dubbed the “Farm to School” bill, the program assists area schools in buying locally grown produce. House Bill 2579 gives all school districts in the state access to grants to buy local and it helps students, area businesses and towns across the state.

The bill’s chief sponsor was Clem, who has been a champion of the program since he joined the Oregon House.

“I used to sit on a tractor during harvest and wonder if local fruit was being served at the school next to our orchard,” Rep. Clem said. “When I came to the legislature in 2007, I had a chance to change how our schools buy the food they serve in their lunchrooms. I’m proud of all the support that the Farm to School program has garnered over the years. Farm to School works by allowing school districts to be reimbursed for a portion of the cost of buying local products for the meals they serve.”

There isn’t any valid reason to keep local agriculture producers — if they wish — from providing products from their harvest to local students. This is a good program, and an example of good legislative judgement.

A tip of the hat to local resident Tom Tangney for nominating local resident — and Korean War combat veteran — Richard Allstott to be this year’s Pendleton Independence Day Parade grand marshal. Allstott grew up near Heppner and worked for the county road department.

He also answered the call from his country and serviced in the Korean War where he was wounded and decorated for valor. Now 90, Allstott doesn’t talk much about his wartime experiences but Tangney knew of his gallantry and pushed for his nomination for grand marshal. Both men deserve to be lauded. And we should all feel grateful for brave men like Allstott.

A tip of the hat to the hundreds of demonstrators and trucks that descended on Salem on Thursday to stage a protest rally against the state’s proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve already stated our opinion of the proposal — House Bill 2020 — on this page and in this space but the individuals who appeared at the rally deserve some praise. That’s because they all exercised one of the most fundamental rights of our Republic — the right to assembly peacefully and express their discontent. The right to assemble and peacefully protest is ingrained into our political system and we should all be grateful.

The men and women who appeared at the state Capitol on Thursday were doing exactly what our founders intended to be a key bulwark in our political system.

A tip of the hat to Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley for his commitment to town hall meetings in the state. He won’t carry a lot of votes out of Morrow County — or Eastern Oregon for that matter — but the fact that Merkley will hold another one of his annual town hall meetings in Boardman next week should be a good sign for voters.

That’s because Merkley, a Democrat, clearly doesn’t take the partisan train — which is often a common sight in Washington, D.C. — on a ride into the heartland of Oregon.

Merkley could ignore portions of the state where his political views are unpopular but he doesn’t. Instead he — and others in the Oregon federal delegation — view their service as one for all of Oregon, not just Democrats or Republicans.

We need more of that philosophy in our national political dialogue, not less.

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