FCPS pilots ‘Farm to School’ at Lansdowne

Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Wednesday, December 08, 2010

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Students at Lansdowne sampled sweet potatoes in the school district's first Farm to School activity.

Students at Lansdowne sampled sweet potatoes in the school district's first Farm to School activity.

Students at Lansdowne sampled sweet potatoes in the school district's first Farm to School activity.Cafeteria manager Linda Stewart and her staff prepared trays of sweet potatoes in individual serving-size cups.A basketful of raw potatoes showed the children what the sweet potatoes looked like before cutting and cooking.Diane Seale and Marty Flynn, from the FCPS Child Nutrition office, worked their way around the cafeteria tables to offer samples and hand out stickers.Karen Jones and Nancy Hiner, dietitians with the county health department, encouraged the youngsters to eat lots of fruits and vegetables.The children who tried even a bite of sweet potatoes were rewarded with an animal sticker!

Adventurous students at Lansdowne Elementary who sampled sweet potatoes with brown sugar and cinnamon got an animal sticker in return for trying a new food.

The taste test was the first district-sponsored activity under the national Farm to School network, which Fayette County Public Schools is piloting at Lansdowne. Other possible avenues are school gardens, composting programs and farm tours – all of which help youngsters understand where their food comes from and how their choices affect their health, environment and community.

The aim is to improve students’ diets with fresh, appetizing foods picked at the peak of their flavor and to reinforce classroom lessons with tangible examples in the cafeteria.

“We’re just trying to get the kids to connect the progression with how food gets from the farm to the table and that there’s a person behind this. There is food grown locally – it doesn’t just magically appear,” said Marty Flynn, the district’s Child Nutrition program coordinator.

She, colleague Diane Seale and two dietitians from the county health department visited Lansdowne on Wednesday to encourage the children to try a new food, handing out small cups of sweet potatoes as classes filled the cafeteria tables.

The reaction among some of the youngest? “It’s really sweet!” and “It tasted like pie.”

FCPS is receiving broad community support for Farm to School. The steering committee also includes representatives from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, the University of Kentucky, the Fayette County Cooperative Extension, the Arboretum and the Lexington Farmers Market.

As those resources filter down to the school level, teachers and students will benefit greatly.

“With the Farm to School program, Lansdowne students are going to have a chance to connect their science curriculum (plant growth) and social studies curriculum (economics) to studies about healthy bodies,” said first-grade teacher Jennifer Rodabaugh.

“In my classroom, we will be learning about how foods are grouped according to the nutrition pyramid and how the foods affect our bodies. We will also be working on making sure the students are aware of good food choices versus poor food choices. During lunchtime, we will begin to track how many healthy choices we are making daily. I hope this will raise nutritional awareness.”

Cafeteria manager Linda Stewart and her staff do their part, too. For instance, they displayed a basket of uncut sweet potatoes so the children could see the original produce. And in the spring, Lansdowne will kick off what Stewart called the “dot” program, which is all about putting a rainbow on every child’s plate. Her staff will wear the colors of each food group to encourage students to ask questions about different choices.

“They’ll be more informed on what it takes to make a balanced diet,” Stewart said.

Lansdowne was selected to pilot the Farm to School initiative in part because of such efforts.

“Our excellent cafeteria staff does a great job of offering our students varied choices of fruits and vegetables. A point is made to ask the students not just what foods they want for lunch, but more specifically, what fruit or vegetable would you like to have,” Rodabaugh said.

“At Lansdowne we want our students to be the best that they can be, inside and out. Farm to School will just be another tool we will use to make that happen.”

Resources:

Farm to School national network

Marty Flynn, Child Nutrition program coordinator

Lansdowne Elementary School

 

  
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