Eleven Vermont schools, including the Shelburne Community School, have just been selected to join the 2014-2015 Vermont Food Farm to School Institute offered by Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED). The Institute provides year-long learning opportunities that help schools engage students in food, farm and nutrition education and serve healthy, local school lunches.
Since 2010, the Institute has helped more than 37 Vermont teams develop vibrant Farm to School programs. The Vermont Farm to School Institute is offered free of charge to schools with the support of the Vermont Community Foundation’s Food and Farm Initiative and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and additional support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, Keurig Green Mountain, and the Farmhouse Group.
Vermont’s Farm to School programs lead the nation with their innovative “3 Cs” model, creating links between Classrooms, Cafeterias, and the Community. The Farm to School Institute is unique in requiring participating teams to include teachers, nutrition staff, administrators and community members, ensuring broad-based support and building programs that include all areas of the school in a collaborative approach to school food change.
Beginning with a three-day intensive workshop at Shelburne Farms from June 25-27, participating teams will acquire tools and expertise to conduct Farm to School activities inside and outside of the classroom. School teams will learn about elements of successful Farm to School programs, create action plans for their schools, and network with peers and other schools.
Each school team will work with an experienced mentor to create and carry out a Farm to School action plan that reflects local interests and priorities. Farm to School activities might include hands-on experiences growing and cooking food, opportunities to meet and learn from local farmers, integrating agriculture and nutrition into science, literacy and math lessons, strategies to increase nutritious and seasonal foods in school cafeterias, and events or programs that involve the community in growing and enjoying healthy, local foods.
Thanks to the work of VT FEED and regional Farm to School organizations, 55 percent of all Vermont schools now have Farm to School programs. These programs help connect students with local farms and increase consumption of local foods, a cornerstone of Vermont’s Farm to Plate movement.
Vermont schools serve close to 70,000 meals daily. Changing the way we feed children in school directly impacts the health and wellbeing of Vermont’s children and families. According to a 2010 report by Shelburne Farms to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vermont schools with Farm to School programs report twice the national average in vegetable consumption, increased school lunch participation by students and staff, and an increased variety of vegetables with school lunch.
“Engaging students in learning where their food comes from helps kids cultivate a long-lasting relationship with healthy and local food,” said VT FEED Project Director Betsy Rosenbluth. “We are thrilled to be able to support eleven more Vermont schools as they work for healthier kids, healthier farms and healthier communities.”
School teams selected for the 2014-2015 Farm to School Institute are: Bristol Elementary School, Lake Region Union High School (Orleans), Lothrop Elementary School (Pittsford), Mary Hogan Elementary School (Middlebury), Missisquoi Valley Union High (Swanton), Newton School (Strafford), Orchard School (South Burlington), Putney Central School, Richmond Elementary School, Shelburne Community School, and Two Rivers Supervisory Union (Ludlow).
Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) is a partnership program of Shelburne Farms and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT). VT FEED’s mission is to work with schools and communities to raise awareness about healthy food, good nutrition, and the role of Vermont farms and farmers. Visit www.vtfeed.org to learn more.