Trumansburg, NY — Russell I. Doig Middle School has been selected as one of twelve Northeast school teams to attend the 2019-20 Northeast Farm to School Institute at Shelburne Farms in Vermont. Shelburne Farms, along with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont and Vermont FEED, offers this year-long professional development program to support selected schools in designing and implementing effective, school-wide Farm to School (FTS) programs.
Each day, thirty million students participate in the National School Lunch Program and lunch shaming, rising school lunch debts, and highly processed foods are trending topics in today’s media. But school meal programs can—and have—improved. Where FTS has been part of those improvements, meal participation has increased by 17%. When more students eat school meals, school meal program revenue increases, and more locally-produced food can be purchased, thus providing all kids with the chance to participate in the local food system. Farm to School programs create a culture of wellness, improve food quality and access, engage students in agriculture and nutrition education, and strengthen local food systems.
This year, Congress will be debating reauthorization of the national Child Nutrition Act, also known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (CNR). The legislation supports FTS grants to projects like the Northeast Farm to School Institute. The Institute brings selected school teams together for a three-day intensive workshop to build a FTS action plan for their school community. With the support of a coach, they then spend the next year putting their plans into action and implementing new programs like farm visits, gardening and cooking activities, serving seasonal foods in the cafeteria, and offering food-based, hands-on science, math, and literacy curriculum. Over nine years, the FTS Institute has supported programs at 97 schools and districts, impacting over 102,000 Northeast students.
Trumansburg Central School District (TCSD) formally launched its own FTS program this April and their five-member team will travel to Shelburne, VT at the end of this month to participate in 2019-20 Institute. While there, they will develop their own comprehensive school-wide FTS Action Plan for curriculum development, local procurement, utilizing outdoor learning spaces, and cultivating family and community connections. Team members include district teaching and food service staff, community members, parents and a representative from Cornell Cooperative Extension. Rosemarie Hanson, team member and Food Service Director at TCSD, is committed to improving students' access to healthier, locally produced foods.
"We're really lucky to have a school community that includes teachers, parents, farmers and chefs who really care about sustainable farming systems and serving kids delicious, healthy, affordable food. Attending the Shelburne Institute is a great opportunity for us, and we hope to leave there with the tools we need to give our FTS program real momentum," she said recently.
Other schools selected for this year's Institute include:
Academy School, Brattleboro, VT;
Berne-Knox Westerlo Central School District, Berne, NY;
Etna-Dixmont School, Etna, ME;
Innovation Academy Charter School, Tyngsboro, MA;
Janet S. Munt Family Room, Burlington, VT;
Naugatuck Public Schools, Naugatuck, CT;
Providence Public School District, Providence, RI;
Robert V. Connors Elementary School, Lewiston, ME;
Williamstown Middle/High School, Williamstown, VT;
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union, Hartland, VT;
Windham Northeast Supervisory Union, Westminster, VT.
Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to cultivate and inspire learning for a sustainable future. That means learning that links knowledge, inquiry, and action to help students build a healthy future for their communities and the planet. Shelburne Farms’ campus is a 1,400-acre working farm, forest, and National Historic Landmark. For information, visit shelburnefarms.org.
Vermont FEED is a Farm to School partnership project of Shelburne Farms and Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT). Their “3C Model” catalyzes change through the Cafeteria, Classroom, and Community to improve knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors toward healthy eating, local purchasing, and our food system.