Across the country, an increasing number of schools and districts have begun to source more foods locally and to provide complementary educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. This nationwide movement to enrich children’s bodies and minds while supporting local economies is often referred to as “farm to school.” The term encompasses efforts that bring local or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias; hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and the integration of food-related education into the regular, standards-based classroom curriculum. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports such efforts through its Farm to School Program, which includes research, training, technical assistance, and grants.
Heather Pease from UCONN Hartford County Extension Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program and Food Corps member Deanna Lampo installed concrete block raised beds in the courtyard of Vance Village Elementary School in New Britain. Deanna teaches an after school garden and nutrition education class.
The garden beds were built with concrete blocks that were purchased with funds given by the Hartford County Extension Council. Now that the garden is in place after school students will plant the seeds of early spring vegetables such as peas, broccoli, and lettuces. Once the plants grow the students will eat they food they grew! The garden is an important link to nutrition education. Most of these plants will be ready to eat in about 45 days. If they grow it, they it they will eat it!
Susan Beeman, RD of the SNAP-Ed Healthy Aging Program, and Erica Benvenuti RD of the SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) /EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program), housed in the Norwich Extension Office participated in the holiday distributions sponsored by Groton Health & Human Services in southeastern Connecticut. They provided nutrition information and cooking demonstrations at two different events in November and December reaching over four hundred low-income families at Thanksgiving and five hundred at Christmas.
Informational materials on how to thaw, cook, stuff and store a turkey were distributed in English & Spanish and recipes were provided. Tastings of turkey chili and pumpkin bread were distributed in November and in December chicken quesadillas, and gingerbread were sampled.