2017-18 Institute Teams Announced!

Posted on May 10, 2017

Twelve Teams Representing the Entire Northeast Selected to Participate in 2017-18 Northeast Farm to School Institute

Twelve teams were recently selected for the third annual Northeast Farm to School Institute, hosted by Vermont Food Education Every Day (Vermont FEED). The Institute is a year-long learning opportunity that will help schools and communities advance their initiatives in food, farm, and nutrition education while serving local products in the cafeteria. Institute schools serve as model programs in their states for other school districts to learn from.

Farm to School in the Northeast is reaching nearly two million students, and Northeast schools spent nearly $70 million on local foods in one year, according to the USDA Farm to School Census. Farm to School helps grow the region’s economy, not only as a market opportunity for farmers and producers, but also to help grow future generations of consumers tied to local products. Farm to school also improves our children’s health by increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables — a recognized obesity prevention strategy. Additionally, Farm to School helps reduce childhood hunger by contributing to the expansion and success of school nutrition programs.

Beginning with a summer workshop at Shelburne Farms, Institute teams’ food service staff, teachers, administrators, and community partners will meet with peers and experts in the field to expand their understanding and practices of Farm to School and develop a farm to school action plan for the coming school year. The schools are matched with an experienced Farm to School coach to help the school implement their plan. The plans integrate best practices into school programs, such as farm visits, gardening and cooking activities, serving seasonal foods in school cafeterias, and offering food-based, hands-on science, math, and literacy lessons.

The Northeast Farm to School Institute has supported the development of Farm to School programs at 62 schools and districts, reaching over 38,000 students from the Northeast. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), champion of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and Farm to School Act of 2015, said:

“Farm to School programs have proven incredibly useful in forging ways to connect our food, our communities and our own health.  We have made considerable progress in advancing this movement since I first established  mandatory federal support for this program as part of the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act in 2010. There is no better place for the Farm to School Institute than the Green Mountain State. Year after year, USDA has cited Vermont as the place to learn how educators, cooks, and families can work together to keep our kids healthy.  Federal partnership programs like this were made to help people, regardless of background, or income.  With Farm to School, we are helping to raise the next generation of mindful, healthy, hunger-free families with every dollar we invest.”

Highlight accomplishments from last year’s Institute school teams include: increasing local procurement of seafood including lobster, clams and scallops (Seabrook School District, NH); developing a community-wide Grow-a-Row program in the school gardens (Newbury Elementary, VT); creating hydroponic gardens in the school cafeteria (New London, CT); establishing a fresh fruit and vegetable grab-n-go snack option (Vernon-Verona-Sherril Schools, NY); establishing garden-based capstone projects for AP environmental science classes (Holyoke High School, MA); and construction of a school sugarhouse (Lyndon Institute, VT). It comes as no surprise that Northeast states are in the top 15 percent of farm to school participation efforts nationally, according to the recently released USDA Farm to School survey.

The 2017-2018 Northeast Farm to School Institute has school teams from all seven Northeast states. The twelve participating schools are: Berlin Elementary School (Berlin, VT), Vermont School for Girls (Bennington, VT), Harwood Union High School (Moretown, VT), Springfield School District (Springfield, VT), Providence Public School District (Providence, RI), Johnson City Central School District (Johnson City, NY), Saranac Lake Middle School (Saranac Lake, NY), Nashua, NH School District (Nashua NH), Witchcraft Heights Elementary School (Salem, MA), Albert S. Hall School (Waterville, ME), Charles Barnum Elementary School (Groton, CT), and Mayberry Elementary (East Hartford, CT).

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Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) is a partnership program of Shelburne Farms and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT). VT FEED’s mission is to work with schools and communities to raise awareness about healthy food, good nutrition, and the role of farms and farmers. Visit www.vtfeed.org to learn more.