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  • Garden Club Promotes Farm to School: Rainbow Elementary School, Coatesville School District

    Description

    Rainbow Elementary School has had a school garden for over sixteen years. The Greenhouse Garden Club is an after school club that maintains the garden and has various activities. In addition to planting and harvesting the club engages students in such activities as taste-testing, story telling, and lessons on science, nutrition, and wellness.

    This year students who planted carrots last year in kindergarten were able to taste-test those carrots as first graders. The students also participate in other activities such as field trips, meeting and sharing their knowledge with other children (this year they met with Girl Scouts and their younger counterparts, the Daisies), winterizing the garden, and maintaining and improving the garden with items such as urns, planters, and shrubs.

    Their big activity, however, was incorporating a three-tiered indoor greenhouse, which will enable the students to start seedlings indoors to get a jump on the growing season, as well as to observe and learn about the life-cycle of plants from seed to harvest. In total, about 75 students are involved in the club.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Jennifer Chrisman
    Contact Person’s Title: Faculty Advisor for Elementary School Garden Club
    Email: chrismanj@coatesville.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 383-3780

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will learn about nutrition and healthy eating
    • Students will continue to learn about IPM-integrated pest management
    • The garden club students will continue to plant and maintain four raised bed salad gardens with the help of a newly installed indoor greenhouse

    Advice

    • Partner with another organization, such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. This is especially beneficial in the summer months when students are not readily available to maintain the garden.

    Evidence of Success

    • This year there was another successful spring harvest which provided enough salad ingredients to feed over 100 students.
    • The after school garden club has continued to be supported by an enthusiastic school board despite budget cuts to other programs.
  • Farmer’s Markets, Recipe Contests, and Local Chefs Educate Students: Great Valley School District

    Description

    In 2007–08, we conducted a farmer’s market several times a month during lunchtime at the Great Valley Middle and High School. Retired teachers and students helped to present and distribute fruits and vegetables for tasting at no charge. Nutrition information was also available. In support of the farmer’s market, the family and consumer sciences classes conducted a recipe contest that required contestants to create healthful recipes for snacks and breakfast foods. The food service department then prepared the winning recipes and offered them as part of the National School Lunch Program. Local chefs visited the school and prepared their specialties for the students to taste.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Barb Nissel
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Supervisor
    Email: bnissel@gvsd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 889–2100

    Category

    • Nutrition Services

    Objectives

    • Expand the culinary horizons of the high school students.
    • Engage high school students in creating recipes for healthful snacks and breakfast foods.
    • Introduce the high school students to local chefs.
    • Aid students in learning about fruits and vegetables that are available on local restaurant menus.
    • Provide nutrition education in a unique way and provide healthier foods to students to improve their diets.

    Advice

    • Involve students in the distribution of the foods to be tasted.
    • Encourage student participation by having them create recipes for the food service department to prepare and serve.
    • Try to obtain a grant to support the purchase of taste–testing foods.
    • Be sure to advertise before taste–testing events.

    Evidence of Success

    • The students have inquired when the taste testing is going to start this year.
    • A local corporation asked us to reapply for their grant. (The grant has been awarded, and we restarted the market in January 09.)
    • Local restaurants have off ered their assistance again this year (2009).
    • The family and consumer sciences teacher is including the recipe contest as part of her curriculum this year.
  • Kindergarteners and Parents Enjoy Farm Field Trips and Locally Grown Snacks: School District of Philadelphia, Norristown School District, Reading School District

    Description

    Kindergarten Initiative

    Four main components:

    1. Nutrition and agriculture education — Teachers are trained and given resources to teach a yearlong program that is integrated into their regular curricula.
    2. Locally grown snacks are provided two times per week to all students.
    3. Two to three times per year students and their parents participate in trips to a farm to develop a relationship with the farmer and to learn about the source of food.
    4. Programs for parents are held at least every other month. Activities include cooking in the classroom, distribution of parent newsletters, and a monthly kindergarten farm store (which allows parents to purchase locally grown produce directly from their children’s classrooms).

    The Food Trust piloted this program five years ago in four schools in Philadelphia. Today there are 56 schools across the state of Pennsylvania (37 in the Philadelphia area) doing the program through the Healthy Farms Healthy Schools funding.

    We were concerned with the wellness of small children and local farms. Through research we know that children do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and these habits contribute to diet–related diseases as well as malnourishment. Research shows that children should learn about and develop healthy habits early in life when they are developing food preferences. We hope to add a physical education aspect to the program by January 2009.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Bonnie Hallam
    Contact Person’s Title: Associate Director of Early Childhood Initiatives
    Email: bhallam@thefoodtrust.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 389–3595

    Category

    • Health Education

    Objectives

    • Help kindergarten children make healthy food choices and teach them about the origins of the foods they eat.

    Advice

    • The most challenging aspect is putting together the locally grown snack infrastructure. Farmers, a caterer, and a distribution system are necessary. Think this through before starting your program.

    Evidence of Success

    • This program has become sustainable through funding by the PA Department of Agriculture, Healthy Farms Healthy Schools Act that was signed into law in 2006. We have published a tool kit for schools that are interested in doing the program. A formal evaluation of the program has been done with Temple University. There is a full report at www.thefoodtrust.org
  • Teaching Nutrition Education with School Gardening: Valley Forge Middle School

    Description

    The Valley Forge Middle School has an organic school garden and students may sign up for an after-school club called “Healthy Kids in the Kitchen.” About 25 students do so each year and learn about gardening, cooking, and nutrition.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Sheri DeMaris
    Contact Person’s Title: Guidance Counselor
    Email: demariss@tesd.net
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 240-1325

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To teach fifth and sixth grade students gardening, nutrition, and cooking

    Advice

    • Promote the club via the school TV station, announcements, and signage.
    • The cost can be offset by selling items such as aprons, cookbooks, etc.
    • Search for healthy cooking and gardening grants and donations for seeds, etc.
    • Club members can be school advocates for healthy change (e.g. with competitive foods, by having taste tests, and suggesting new menu items).

    Evidence of Success

    • The club has been a success and students are eager to share their knowledge with their parents. At the end of the school year there is a nice picnic/party celebration and students attend with their families.
  • Incorporating School Gardens into the Elementary Curriculum: Owen J. Roberts School District

    Description

    A school garden provides many opportunities to support the school curriculum. Utilizing a garden in the curriculum adds value to the Farm to School program in the eyes of the community, school board, and staff. Additionally, these opportunities tend to be hands-on, and especially well-suited to all children, including those with disabilities. Our district has incorporated PDE nutrition guidelines into the science curriculum in grades K-3. The gardens serve as an outdoor resource and as a source of using food as a teaching tool.

    Kindergarten students plant pumpkins in the spring to be harvested by the next kindergarten class in the fall. Then, the new kindergarten students bake the pumpkins and make Pumpkin Soup. They read the story Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper, which provides a lesson on cooperation. They scoop the baked pumpkin flesh and wash and save the seeds and each student decorates a seed packet. They use measuring and counting skills to make the soup, and they learn about the nutrients provided by pumpkins. They investigate the Food Pyramid and decide where the pumpkin fits. The children also read a book by Elizabeth King called The Pumpkin Patch, which educates them on the seed-to-plant growing cycle.

    Prior to this exercise most of these children have only known the pumpkin as the source of the Jack-O-Lantern.

    The children delight in tasting the pumpkin soup, and they take the recipe home. They speculate whether parents and siblings will like it by using their predicting skills.

    Finally, in late spring, the kindergarten children get back the seed packets which they decorated in the Fall. They pull weeds, till the soil, and plant their seeds to grow pumpkins for the new kindergarteners to learn the same lessons they learned from the pumpkin patch.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Jo-an Rechtin
    Contact Person’s Title: Wellness and Communications Coordinator
    Email: jRechtin@ojrsd.com
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 469-5697

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Through garden-related activities, kindergarten students will learn lessons in Math, Science and Technology, Family and Consumer Science, Environment and Ecology, Health/Nutrition, and Community Outreach and Cooperation
    • Students will classify foods according to their senses.
    • Students will explain the difference between living and non-living things and classify seeds as living.
    • Students will explain where people get their food.
    • Students will state the importance of eating a varied diet.
    • Students will tell why we need to take care of the earth.

    Advice

    • Include parents in the projects.
    • Anticipate that some children will want to grow the pumpkins for themselves. They appreciate hearing about the worth of planting seeds for others.
    • Make sure the parents get a copy of the recipe in advance. Parents whose children have food allergies will appreciate this.
    • Make sure to have the children help with clean up at every phase.
    • Use suitable portion sizes for tasting (i.e. one to two ounces is plenty).

    Evidence of Success

    • Students have proven to be change-makers for their families. Some parents report that they had never tried pumpkin soup until their children recommended it.
    • Surveys indicate that nearly 70% of parents report that their children requested they make a food which they tried in kindergarten.
  • Using Gardening to Teach: Begin With Us Preschool

    Description

    Begin With Us preschool uses their school garden to teach lessons in math and nutrition education. The produce is used to make items such as salsa and the students have been visited by local farmers to teach them about the origin of their food. Students collaborated with their parents to produce a cookbook.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Kristie Watt
    Contact Person’s Title: Teacher
    Email: kristiewatt@verizon.net
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 941-0606

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To use a school garden to teach nutrition education and basic math

    Advice

    • Contact the Penn State Master Gardeners for help.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students are very enthusiastic about the garden and have retained knowledge gained from lessons taught there.
  • Taste-Testing Enhances Nutrition Curriculum: Vida Charter School

    Description

    Vida’s 23 third and fourth grade students studied the Food is Elementary nutrition curriculum written by Antonia Demas. During the first half of the school year the students learned about groups of foods and the nutrients they provide. They sampled a variety of foods including apples from a local farm, vegetarian sushi made with cucumbers and carrots, pasta primavera, tortillas with guacamole and fresh salsa, and West African fufu (a thick paste usually made by boiling starchy root vegetables in water) with spinach. Throughout the second half of the year the students prepared and sampled whole food, plant-based meals that focused on ethnic diversity. Produce from local farms was used whenever possible.

    The kindergarten, first and second grade students (63 students in all) also received mini-nutrition lessons along similar themes.

    All students were given recipes in English and Spanish to take home, and they were encouraged to share what they had learned with their friends and families.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Dr. April Yetsko
    Contact Person’s Title: CEO
    Email: aprilyetsko@vidacharterschool.com
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 334-3643

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will prepare and sample recipes that include fresh local foods.
    • The students will become aware of the variety of ways to achieve a nutritious diet.
    • Students will recognize the healthful aspects of recipes that represent the ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity of the school’s population.
    • Students will share their new nutrition information with friends and family.

    Advice

    • Although every recipe will not be universally loved, students should be encouraged to at least sample each recipe. Then they can make informed decisions about whether or not they like the foods they’ve studied and prepared.
    • Preparing and eating food in school is a great time to teach etiquette. Students can learn social skills related to eating in public, including how to react when they do not like something they’ve tasted.
    • Be prepared for a lot of clean-up work, and plan to request additional help while food preparation and taste-testing activities are being conducted. Vida enlisted the aid of seven volunteers for this. These people visited the school weekly or semi-weekly to assist with these processes.

    Evidence of Success

    • he students and teachers enjoyed preparing and then eating the types of foods they learned about in each lesson.
    • Students tasted and discussed the foods that they prepared.
    • Surveys showed that the students enjoyed these experiences and that they learned new food preparation skills.
  • Field Trip to a Farm and a Supplier: Crafton Elementary School, Carlynton SD

    Description

    After a week of lessons about nutrition and fresh produce, the third grade students of Crafton Elementary School went on a field trip to Soergela Orchard in Wexford PA. During a tour the students learned about the types of fruit and vegetables grown at Soergala Orchard.  They were introduced to equipment used on the farm and how the produce is prepared for distribution. The tour also included discussion of the types of challenges and obstacles that farmers face, such as pests, disease, and the quality of the weather and the soil.

    After leaving the farm, the students visited Paragon Food Service in Pittsburgh. Paragon is the produce company that provides the school district’s fruits and vegetables. The students were given a tour of the warehouse and were shown how the produce is kept fresh and cold until it’s delivered to their school.

    When the students returned to school after these two tours they were served a snack of fresh fruits and vegetables.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Michelle Weaver
    Contact Person’s Title: NSLP Facilitator
    Email: michelle.weaver@carlynton.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 429-2500 x 1104

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will witness farming procedures involved in local production of fruits and vegetables.
    • Students will witness operations at the produce company that serves as an intermediary between the local farms and their school.
    • Students will appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables through sampling.

    Advice

    • Make sure that the students and their parents remember that they should wear older clothing for a farm tour.
    • Because students will be outside some of the time during a trip like this, make sure that they will be prepared for current weather conditions. They might need umbrellas, heavy coats, etc., depending on the weather.

    Evidence of Success

    • The students named fruits and vegetables that are grown on the farm.
    • Students discussed the farmer’s dislike of stink bugs.
    • The students described how produce is kept cool from the time it leaves the farm until it arrives at their school.
  • Nutrition Education Supported by Farmer Visit to School: Penn Cambria Middle School, Penn Cambria SD

    Description

    A guest speaker from the local dairy farm visited the fifth grade students in Family and Consumer Science (FCS) classes. This farming representative spoke to the students about the types of plants and animals that can be successfully raised in the local area. It was explained that many factors, such as elevation, soil quality, weather patterns, and amount of investment required can all affect a farmer’s level of “success.” The speaker also outlined the journey of milk from farm to store. There was then an interactive activity during which the students participated in taste testing recipes that featured dairy products from the local farm (pasteurized, packaged products that the dairy sells in their store). Finally, students used online tools to create their own nutrition labels for those recipes. Following this activity the students discussed how each recipe fit into the food pyramid.

    To analyze the recipes, students used this web site:
    recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

    To create nutrition labels for their recipes, students used this web site:
    www.shopncook.com/nutritionFactsLabel.html

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Jeanette L. Black
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Curriculum and Instruction
    Email: blackjl@pacm.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 886-8121

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will name plants and animals that are raised on local farms.
    • Students will state the reasons specific plants and animals are raised in their region.
    • Students will describe the journey of a local agricultural product from production to consumer.
    • Students will determine how locally produced foods fit into a healthy diet by analyzing the nutritional content of recipes that feature those foods.

    Advice

    • Dairy farming topics can be addressed year-round. However, to teach students first-hand about fresh local fruits and vegetables, it would be good to schedule this type of activity at a time of year when fruits and vegetables are being planted or harvested.
    • Learning about these topics in FCS class can supplement the curriculum in other subject areas. This district’s K through 5 students study soil, climate, and farm-to-table topics in their science classes. In addition, grade 3 has lessons about the changing technology of agriculture, and grade 4 studies Pennsylvania agriculture.

    Evidence of Success

    • Question and answer sessions conducted after the speaker’s visit showed that
      • students were able to identify local agricultural products.
      • students were able to explain why these products are grown in this region.
      • students were able to briefly describe the journey of milk from farm to store.
    • Students were able to create nutrition labels for the recipes that they sampled.
  • Kindergarten Students Tour a Farm: Enfield Elementary School, SD of Springfield Township

    Description

    In May kindergarten students took a trip to Weaver’s Way, a small local farm. The goal of this trip was to teach students about the cycle of life and the source of some of their fresh fruits and vegetables. The farm tour, which included age-appropriate hands-on activities, supplemented the students’ classroom studies of plants and seasons.

    Students visited the farm for an hour and a half. During the tour they were escorted by docents who talked about plant life cycles and led them in farm-related learning experiences. The children decorated cups and planted seeds in them. They also heard a story about earthworms, and then they looked for earthworms in a pile of mulch. This was their favorite activity of the day!

    A Foss science kit about trees and other plants is utilized in the classroom when the students study their unit on plants and seeds. Students wrote entries about their Weaver’s Way experiences in the kit’s “science notebook.”

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Carol H. Rohrbach
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Curriculum and Staff Development
    Email: carol_rohrbach@sdst.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 233-6000 x2226

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Kindergarten students will see where fruits and vegetables come from.
    • Students will be able to cite some of the benefits of eating locally grown foods.
    • Students will be able to discuss how seasons affect the growth cycle.

    Advice

    • Schedule the visit for the early fall, when there should be harvested produce for the students to learn about. These students went in the spring, when most farm crops are just beginning to grow.

    Evidence of Success

    In classroom discussions after this field trip, the students showed understanding of concepts that were covered at the farm. They were able to talk about:

    • the origins of fruits and vegetables,
    • the benefits of growing our own food and buying locally, and
    • how seasons affect the growth cycle
  • Fresh Local Strawberry-Spinach Salad Samples: The School District of Philadelphia

    Description

    On May 26, 2011, students at four elementary schools participated in “Eat Fresh Here” events. They were offered tasting samples of a strawberry and spinach salad during all lunch periods. The same taste test was also conducted the next day at three area high schools. The recipe for the salad was given to all students to take home.

    These events were conducted by the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), Division of Food Services, along with community partners including Fair Food Philly, The Food Trust, Philadelphia Urban Food and Fitness Alliance, and Common Market, a local aggregator/distributor that works with over 100 farmers in the Delaware Valley.

    Spinach and strawberries were chosen for the taste test because of the height of their flavor and freshness in the spring. They were presented together with the expectation that many students would taste the salad because of the strawberries, and in the process they would also taste the spinach. The salad was tossed in a simple vinaigrette of salad oil and red wine vinegar.

    Katie Berky, Nutrition Educator for Ethel Allen Elementary School, provided teachers at the four elementary schools with classroom nutrition education materials about spinach and strawberries. Students then entered their lunchrooms proudly wearing necklaces with strawberry emblems they had colored themselves. Others showed off the spinach maze they had completed. These fruit and vegetable games also entertained children during the lunch periods as they sampled their salads.

    At several schools, nutrition educators spent the day in the cafeteria, engaging students in conversation about what they were eating and what other fruits and vegetables they could try at home. Members of the partner organizations surveyed the students for their opinions of the salad. These conversations also supported nutrition education by providing opportunities for the adults to encourage the students to taste their salads.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Lisa Jones
    Contact Person’s Title: Manager of Operations
    Email: lireeves@philasd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 400-5564

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Promote healthy eating
    • Students will sample fresh local produce
    • Items will be simple and easy to prepare at home

    Advice

    • Consider the age and taste preferences of the students and offer items which are likely to be well-received. Based on survey results, if this salad were to be served again it might be even better received if baby spinach were used, as the more mature spinach was too bitter and fibrous for many students.
    • A creamier, Ranch-style dressing could also be tried, as some students perceived the vinaigrette dressing as too sour.
    • Serve perishable fruit such as strawberries as soon as possible to avoid having them sit in storage for an extended time.
    • Use colorful marketing materials to capture students’ attention.
    • Partner with your school’s wellness council or committee for help with surveying the students and promoting the event.

    Evidence of Success

    • Participation was high. 699 students said they enjoyed the salad, and 635 said they would eat it again. 580 students said that this is the first time they had ever eaten a strawberry-spinach salad.
    • Many students returned for second and sometimes even third helpings.
    • Student comments were positive and included statements such as “I was wrong—it was good!” and “I would eat a hundred million of these!”
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