Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What is "Farm to School" ?

Farm to School is a program that connects schools to local farms with the objectives of:

  • serving healthy meals in the cafeteria
  • improving student nutrition
  • providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities
  • supporting local and regional farmers
In Vermont, farm to school efforts  are lead by Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED).  Farm to School is happening all over Vermont and across the USA!

What does Farm to School mean for JES?

There is so much going on at JES!  The Farm-to-School efforts began with a committed parent group.  Last year the efforts ramped up, support broadened and we:
  • started taste tests
  • removed processed foods from the menu
  • added many more local products to the menu
  • surrounded the cafeteria in pictures of local farms
  • put in a garden and more  

Because of the broad support in the JES Community for the program, JES was invited to attend The Farm-to-School Institute Summer Workshop at Shelburne Farms.  Four staff members, Vicki Graf, Amy Beckwith, Lars Botzojorns and Mary-Lou Lappierre, and a parent, Jamie Lofy, attended the workshop.  There, we developed a Farm-to-School Action Plan for JES and have been implementing the plan this year.  In addition to the workshop, JES received a year of support from Abbie Nelson who works for VT FEED, to help with the plan roll out.  An additional staff member, Dave Bouchard, and an additional parent, Ray Medina, have joined the farm-to-School committee this year.  

This year we have:
  • added a new fruit/veggie bar
  • increased local products on the menu
  • enjoyed garden activities and harvests
  • changed taste testing to include students in the food prep
  • focused on curriculum
  • had a school wide Stone Soup harvest celebration

The momentum grows and the excitement is there at JES for an increase in healthy food consumption! Below is our Farm to School plan. 

Vision Statement: At Jericho Elementary School we work together to promote the wellbeing of all members of our school community.  We do this by encouraging lifelong healthy habits, fostering participation, building appreciation and making connections to the land and greater community.

Our plan focuses on four areas, Cafeteria, Garden, Classroom and Community.  We look at this as a long term plan, over several years, although many of the action steps are completed or will be completed soon. This is an evolving plan which we hope will eventually be infused into the  culture of JES.  It already is in many ways!

  • Vision Statement- In our cafeteria, we foster a positive climate that supports the knowledge and consumption of healthy foods.
  • Goals-
    • Improve the culture of eating
    • Increase the use of and consumption of local foods and healthy food choices.
  • Action Steps-
    • purchase round tables
    • purchase a salad bar- done.  Thank you PIE!
    • As a staff, foster a positive experience for students at lunch, discouraging students from criticizing their neighbors food, and discussing food varieties and the benefits of eating healthy foods as it comes up in conversation.
    • purchase planters for the cafeteria windows.
    • connect with local farmers and purchase local food regularly.
    • taste tests- involve the students more in preparation and conducting the tests.
  • Vision Statement- In our school garden, we use the garden as a learning space and share the care of the garden with the larger community.
  • Goals-
    • Create an outdoor learning space in the garden.
    • Develop a plan for garden maintenance
    • Compile a list of ways for teachers to use the space with students.
  • Action Steps-
    • Put in benches.
    • Bring the staff into the garden and brainstorm ways to use the garden with students.  Provide master list to teachers. (List attached to this document)
    • Search for and provide other curriculum ideas for teachers to incorporate if they choose.
    • Brainstorm ways to maintain the garden- parents? students?
  • Vision Statement- In our classrooms, we teach students about healthy foods, good nutrition and the role of farms and farmers in our community.
  • Goals-
    • Audit our current curriculum for Farm to School lessons already in action.
    • Develop a plan to connect with local farms.
  • Action Steps-
    • Develop an inventory
    • Discuss with the teaching staff to share ideas
    • Offer Farmer Correspondence as an option
  • Vision Statement- In our community, we build relationships and celebrate our Farm-to-School successes.
  • Goals-
    • Develop a Wellness Structure with Farm-to-School as a part of it.
    • Reach out to the community to make connections. Encourage involvement on our committee and with our action plan.
  • Action Steps-
    • Set up ways to reach out such as the Wellness blog, Google+, newsletters.
    • Student generated thank you’s.
    • Seek out and advertise family picking for JES opportunities at local farms
    • Introduction of the Farm-to-School plan to the larger JES community in the evening.
    • Open House info table.

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