Raw ingredients trump recipes every time; farmers and ranchers who coax the best from the earth can make any of us appear to be a great cook.
We are thrilled to announce that Colchester School District has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and the Vermont Department of Health to support the planning of a farm-to-school initiative at Colchester Middle School!
Nutrition is a critical component of optimal child development and academic performance; education about and access to nutritious food choices is an integral part of best positioning young people for healthy and successful lives. The district pursued the funding opportunity through the Vermont Farm-to-School Grant Program in order to create a comprehensive, sustainable, integrated farm-to-school program focusing upon fresh and nutritious foods. The district’s objectives include integrating farm-to-school concepts into our cafeterias, incorporating more farm-fresh foods into our school community, and further integrating farm-to-school concepts into classroom content areas. The grant will support the work necessary to create the program, including supporting additional professional development opportunities for our educators, administrators, food service professionals, and involved community members. Specifically, it will help provide these key stakeholders with the time, skills, and support to write and align integrative farm-to-school curriculum with the Common Core State Standards.
The grant will also support additional resources to facilitate numerous nutrition-related community events, such as back-to-school barbecues, curriculum nights, community dinners, end-of-school celebrations, and so on. Furthermore, the grant will allow for area agronomists and other guest presenters to facilitate taste tests and learning opportunities in our schools. These taste tests and classroom presentations about the various logistics of crop production—including soil preparation, planting, nutrient and pest management, irrigation and drainage, harvest, transportation considerations, and so on—are critical components of our farm-to-school program and our goal of deepening our students’ connections with our local agronomists and their understanding of the foods they consume.
Some of our schools host gardens, the produce from which is used in our cafeterias, and we welcome and encourage community involvement in our ongoing nutrition-related efforts. As is affirmed in the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017, we are steadfastly committed to wellness initiatives, and, with solid support from our administration, educators, and community members—as well as a number of established farm-to-school partnerships—our multiple-award-winning wellness program is well positioned to implement a successful program of this nature.
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