By Beth Heller
Last week our blog kicked off National Farm to School Month with an overview of the surprising ways Farm to School programs can impact students, schools and communities at large. This week Live54218 had the honor of handing out nearly $20,000 in Farm to School grants to local school districts. The awards, which are funded by a generous investment by UnitedHealthcare, will support an exciting array of initiatives.
This innovative program of flexible funding is successful largely due to the groundwork laid by the Farm to School Task Force convened by Live in 2014. Unlike the large, centralized school districts in Madison and Milwaukee, our group of stakeholders is a diverse array of community school districts, from tribal run (Oneida Nation) to parochial (GRACE) as well as six additional public school districts with different populations and needs.
What ties the work together is a shared vision of changing the story around school lunch but what creates richness is the diverse ways this vision is playing out across the region. Here are just a few of the funded initiatives we’ll be tracking in the coming year:
- Pulaski Community School District’s middle school students will be planning and testing recipes for school lunch. Their recipes must meet the standards required of the school food service and focus on locally purchased foods where possible. The final step of this project – a competition for the best recipe – will be filmed as part of Live54218’s Farm to School video series!
- The Unified District of De Pere will be planting fruit trees at three elementary schools, where students will learn about grafting and creating/maintaining an orchard.
- Ashwaubenon School District will be extending the growing season at the High School “farm” with the addition of hoop houses.
- Other districts will be adding equipment like dehydrators, food processors and vacuum sealers to extend the growing season and support greater use of local produce, which often requires more time and effort to prep than food from national distributors.
With such amazing work at hand, Live is excited to continue to support this work and leverage funding and attention for Farm to School in our area. These initiatives not only broaden young horizons and teach healthy habits, they lend color and depth to our region’s local and national reputation.
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