Bucks County Technical High School Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

Bucks County Technical High School has placed posters, which were created by senior students studying Commercial and Advertising Art, throughout the school’s hallways. These posters bring awareness to the nutritious meals which are offered in the cafeteria.

The Daily Morning Announcement by the school’s principal always begins with the day’s lunch menu.

Prominent menu boards have been placed in the cafeteria, along with attractive baskets and containers that highlight healthy offerings to the students.

During February 2017 an entire page was dedicated in the BCTHS Newsletter to National School Breakfast Week.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Anthony Mazzocchi
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Manager
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 949-1700

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Objective(s)

  • To increase participation in school meals.
  • To increase the selection of fruits and vegetables

Advice

  • The slogan at BCTHS is “If you believe you will achieve!”

Evidence of Success

  • Participation rates have increased. For example, comparing January 2016 to January 2017 lunch counts increased from 19% to 26%. February 2016 compared to February 2017 lunch counts increased from 18% to 25%.
  • The cafeteria is bright and inviting.
  • Students are consistently reminded that healthy eating helps them fuel up for success in the classroom and beyond.

Southmoreland School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

Food Service Director, Lynn Huggins, realized that the cafeteria at Southmoreland School District’s Primary Center was drab, lacking color and style, cluttered, and in no way kid-friendly. She teamed with art teachers and high school students who painted a food-themed, colorful, child-friendly mural for the cafeteria wall. Enthusiasm was high from both the students and teachers.

Child-friendly stickers affixed to the wall include quotes from Dr. Seuss, paw prints, and the school’s mascot, a Scottie dog. Paw print decals are also on the floor to guide the way to the cafeteria’s entrance.

A bulletin board that promotes healthy eating choices and cafeteria meals now covers an old garage door, which is the entrance to a dish room. The theme of the bulletin board is “I tried it at SPC cafeteria” which is emblazoned on a banner. As the year progresses photographs of students who have tried new food items are displayed in this area. The students who are waiting in the cafeteria line pass this each day and are eager to see whose photograph has been added to the display.

Other changes to the cafeteria include a “Welcome” door wraparound art, which features Dr. Seuss that serves as the entrance to the cafeteria and colorful stickers, which are given to students who choose a particular fruit or vegetable.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Lynn Huggins
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 887-2015

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Objective(s)

  • To increase participation in school meals.
  • To create a warm, inviting, kid-friendly eating area

Advice

  • Involve the students when renovating the cafeteria.
  • Try different ways of motivating students to try new food items. You never know what will work until you try.

Evidence of Success

  • Lunch participation is up by 2.7%
  • Students are visibly excited by having their photos taken during lunch for the “I Tried It” board.

Delaware Valley School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

Delaware Valley School District purchased new, attractive baskets and trays to display fresh fruits and vegetables in the school’s cafeteria. By eliminating old, unattractive items and increasing the visual appeal of healthy food options, they hoped to increase the selection of fruits and vegetables and reimbursable meal sales.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Justin Roselli
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 296-1868

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Objective(s)

  • To increase participation in school meals
  • To increase fruit and vegetable sales
  • To increase students’ selection of healthy food options

Advice

  • Present food in the most attractive way possible. This will entice students to select fruits and vegetables to their breakfast and lunch trays

Evidence of Success

  • At the start of the 2015-2016 SY lunch participation was at 41.73%. By the end of February it increased to 43.73%.
  • Sales of fruits and vegetables increased by 20%.

General McLane School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

General McLane School District implemented several Smarter Lunchroom techniques in their high school and middle school cafeterias. The cafeteria staff teamed up with art teachers to provide student-made art for the cafeterias. Framed student-made posters hang from the cafeteria as part of a new program that will ensure that each year the cafeterias will offer a new and attractive look.

Additionally, the food service department replaced all their old signs with new, eye-catching designs that utilized new fonts. Flavor Stations, which are equipped with different seasonings, were purchased for each school so that students could season their food exactly how they like. A Facebook page for the district’s food service department is now online. The Food Service Coordinator posts pictures, events, news, and menus for students and stakeholders in order to promote and generate interest in the school nutrition program.

Another means of communication is a front entrance Food Service information board that students see each time they enter or leave the buildings. These feature school menus printed in color. The department has also initiated “special days” in the cafeteria where a certain ethnic food is highlighted and there are giveaways related to the day or holiday being celebrated. For example, a recent Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras celebration featured Cajun cuisine and beads were given away to any student who purchased a reimbursable meal.

Finally, decorative fruit baskets are now being used to display fruit at the end of every line to promote eating fresh fruits and to ensure that reimbursable meals are being chosen.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Nicole Keller
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Coordinator
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 273-1033

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Objective(s)

  • To increase participation in school meals.

Advice

  • Small changes can make a big difference. It doesn’t take a lot of money to improve the looks of a cafeteria.
  • A Facebook page is a great way to reach a large audience and to highlight your program outside the district’s web page.
  • Student art is a great way to get students talking about your program and they love to see their projects hanging from the walls.

Evidence of Success

  • From December 2016 to February 2017 there has been an across the board increase in participation of 10% and a 5.7% increase in the middle school.
  • Students and staff both made positive comments on the changes on a nearly daily basis

Upper Merion School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

Upper Merion School District renovated the cafeteria at their middle school according to suggestions given in a recent Smarter Lunchrooms assessment. Large, new, attractive, and colorful signs were displayed both overhead and at floor level which serve to both stimulate the student’s appetite and extoll the virtues of fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition, large, attractive woven baskets were purchased to display fresh fruit. The changes resulted in an increase in meals served.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Penny Bartlett
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Supervisor
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 205-8804

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Objective(s)

  • Increase Participation in school meals

Advice

  • Find the time to participate in the Smarter Lunchrooms program.
  • The assessment makes you take some time to think about what your goals are, how to achieve them, and then find the time to ensure that you actually implement the needed changes.

Evidence of Success

  • Participation increased by 7.4% between September 2015 and September 2016

Towanda Area School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

Towanda Area School District’s Towanda Elementary School revamped their cafeteria with techniques gleaned from a Smarter Lunchroom assessment. Fruit is now displayed in new baskets with liners, which increased visual appeal. White milk is featured prominently in the front of the cooler. The cafeteria was renovated with newly acquired art work which has been created by the High School art department. This includes pictures of fresh fruits and vegetables and other attractive, healthy items.

The daily menu is displayed on a TV screen in the cafeteria and menu items have been given catchy names. Finally, more fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy options are offered each day.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Kimberly Daum
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 268-2010

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Objective(s)

  • Increase Participation in school meals
  • Increase vegetable sales
  • Increase selection of healthy options
  • Increase milk sales (especially white milk)
  • Reduce Food waste

Evidence of Success

  • Breakfast participation is at 78-80%.
  • Fruit selections have increased by about 5%.

Oxford Area School District Revamps Nutrition Program

Description

The entire Oxford School District food service staff implemented actions to improve the district’s program. They then involved the students at Elk Ridge Elementary School and discussed with them their food choices, educated them on nutrition and healthy eating choices, and engaged them in projects such as the MyPlate Coloring Sheet (https://www.choosemyplate.gov/content/coloring-sheet-blank).

The Food Service Director conducted training sessions with her staff on customer service. The friendly cafeteria staff now encourages the students to not only make healthy food choices but to enjoy the process of decision making.

The menu was adjusted to include more choices in fresh fruits and vegetables, with particular emphasis on offering a variety of color choices and in displaying them in a creative, attractive manner. For example, colorful baskets are used to display a variety of vegetables with an eye toward dramatic, contrasting colors displayed in rows.

In addition, bagged Grab ‘n Go meals are being offered for the first time. Yogurt, cheese sticks, and Graham snacks have proven to be a favorite with the students. The improvements are part of a process, with the goal of continually improving the program.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Alison Weir
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (484) 365-6027

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Objective(s)

  • To increase participation in the school nutrition program
  • To improve all areas of the school food experience including customer service, nutrition education, menus, and overall enjoyment of the cafeteria meals

Advice

  • Involve the students.
  • Remember that the way a food looks and is presented plays a large part in someone’s purchasing decision.
  • Know that students want to learn about nutrition and are have fun talking with adults about eating choices and their thought process.

Evidence of Success

  • Participation increased from August-October of 2015 to August-October 2016 by 10.4% from 56.7% to 67.1%.

Upper Moreland Township School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

Upper Moreland Township School District renovated their cafeteria in order to increase both participation and sales of vegetables. The salad bar and cafeteria lines for fruits and vegetables were reconfigured for self-service and the items themselves were newly displayed in cold wells that are flush-mounted and more attractive.

The newly designed salad bar featured all new containers which are all uniform in size and shape, which makes for a much neater presentation. Presently, condiment and utensil stations are being purchased which will also add to the new, neater appearance. These will be displayed away from the serving line which should improve the flow of the line.

Other changes being implemented involve playing music at breakfast in the high school’s cafeteria. A survey is being created to determine what the students want, and what can be done to persuade them to partake in school meals.

Instead of purchasing markers for the salad bar’s sneeze guard, labels were purchased that are much nicer looking, more uniform in appearance, and match all serving lines. These labels come with templates that can be used to identify every item offered. Finally, all the plastic bowls that were previously used to display fruit for students’ grab and go meals have been replaced with much more attractive wicker baskets.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Melissa Harding
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 830-1522

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Objective(s)

  • Increase participation in school meals
  • Increase vegetable sales

Advice

  • Check your kitchens to see what you are not using. The staff was asking for more plastic bowls to display fruit, but a check of the kitchen revealed many beautiful baskets which were not being used.
  • Black plastic containers on the line look so much better than clear containers or non-matching shapes and sizes. It really makes a difference

Evidence of Success

  • Changes are still being implemented but already there has been a slight (.5%) rise in breakfast sales. Expectations are that this will continue as more changes are implemented.

Hershey Primary Elementary School Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

Big changes have been made at Derry Township School District’s Hershey Primary Elementary School. To increase participation in school meals signs have been added to the cafeteria explaining how to choose a reimbursable meal, and new, healthy menu items have been added.

Sample days have continued to allow students the opportunity to try new foods which, if popular enough, will be added to the regular menu. This program, in tandem with a re-education of the staff on offer vs. serve, was implemented with the goal of reducing food waste.

A time study is currently being conducted and analyzed to improve traffic flow and line flow. The biggest change that occurred was the redesigning, repainting, and added signage (posters, education materials, etc.) throughout the cafeteria. Students were even given the opportunity to vote on a new name. Each classroom in the Hershey Primary School was able to submit a name, which was then voted upon. They chose Cocoa Café, which was unveiled with new menu offerings such as Sandwich Buddies, Yogurt Parfait Pals, Ancient Grains and Kale Rice Blends, Couscous and Red Quinoa, Roasted Vegetables, and more.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Greg Hummel
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Services
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 531-2233

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Objective(s)

  • Increase participation in school meals
  • Although it is more work to cut up fresh fruit for the students, if the staff members are willing to do this and develop a way to prep ahead of time it can be done.
  • Increase selection of healthy options
  • Reduce food waste
  • Improve traffic flow through the line/Reduce time spent in the line

Advice

  • Get as many people and groups involved in the project as possible when making improvements.
  • Although it is more work to cut up fresh fruit for the students, if the staff members are willing to do this and develop a way to prep ahead of time it can be done.
  • Include students, teachers, the maintenance department, parents, etc. This allows people to have ownership and invest time and care into what is going on in their school district.

Evidence of Success

  • Despite a drop in enrollment the meal counts have remained steady and are even rising slightly.

Quaker Valley School District Increases Sales of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Description

In order to increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in school lunch Quaker Valley School District’s Director of Food Services Jennifer Reiser conducted extensive training with her staff. She increased the number of fresh fruit and vegetable offerings, including berries, melons, kiwi, and even star fruit. Jennifer taught her staff how to prepare the items, how to display them to make them most attractive, and even how to use them to garnish other dishes.

In addition, signage was created to encourage students to choose fruits and vegetables. The signs are fun and colorful and feature a cute message such as “Orange wheels will get your day rolling with Kiwi and Berries.”

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jennifer Reiser
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Services
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 749-3610

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • It is helpful to have a staff member to champion your cause. If you train someone that is excited and address all objectives (e.g. time constraints) then you can have this staff member go out and train the other schools and show them how to make it work.
  • Although it is more work to cut up fresh fruit for the students, if the staff members are willing to do this and develop a way to prep ahead of time it can be done.
  • Making the fruits and vegetables the stars of the lunch line has really increased the perception of school lunch. More students will take fresh fruit and vegetables if it is available and presented in an attractive and appealing manner.

Evidence of Success

  • Fruit servings increased by 9.66%
  • Vegetable servings increased by 15.18%

Punxsutawney School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

Punxsutawney School District, in an effort to increase healthy lunchroom choices, revamped their high school cafeteria. Posters with food items were designed and placed in the food court, making the space more appealing. Attractive wooden bowls of fresh fruit were placed at each station and at the Point of Sale. Menus and signs were posted in the dining area where the students line up, which include vinyl banners in the food court which were printed by the shop class. In addition, there was a “name that pizza” contest. The winning name for the high school was “The Big Kahuna,” for the middle school “The Big Chuck” which reflects the name of the sports team, and the elementary’s winning name was “The Goliath .”
 

Contact Information

Contact Person: Denise Geist
Contact Person’s Title: Cafeteria Manager
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 938-5151

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Evidence of Success

  • Fresh fruit sales increased by 10%
  • Students are getting through the line quicker because of the signage before the entry of the food court.

 

 

Plum Borough School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

Plum Borough School District, in an effort to increase participation in school meals, as well as sales of white milk, vegetables, and healthy options, implemented Smarter Lunchrooms techniques at their cafeterias.

Changes included offering more vegetables in both cafeteria lines, displaying baskets of fresh whole fruit next to the cashiers, and prominently displaying white milk in the front of the cooler.

In addition, students from the school submitted art work to decorate the cafeteria in order to give it a more inviting look.
 

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jessica Griggle
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 798-6367

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • An assessor helps you to see your cafeteria with a fresh set of eyes. You will notice things that you otherwise never would have.
  • Encourage your staff to be receptive to change.

Evidence of Success

  • Fruit sales increased by 8.12%
  • Vegetable sales increased by 50.25%
  • White milk sales increased by 2.51%
  • 8.91% more meals have been served

Northern Bedford County School District

Description

In an effort to create excitement, inspire students to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduce food waste, Northern Bedford County School District improved its cafeterias by making several changes. First, menu boards were created and displayed on each serving line. These boards featured the items being served each day, were colorful and attractive, and had pictures so that the youngest students knew which items they could choose. Northern Bedford also increased their fresh fruit offerings and displayed fresh fruit and vegetables in colorful baskets and trays. In addition, the district reached out to parents with a colorful flier which promoted healthy choices being offered to students.
 

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jennie Miller
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 766-4740

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • There are many no-cost/low-cost ways to help promote your program and get the students excited about school meals.
  • There are many small things you can do that can make a big difference in getting the students interested in choosing school meals.

Evidence of Success

  • Breakfast participation has increased by 5% and remained steady.
  • Parents have received literature which described healthy choices offered to their children.
  • Increasing the choices of fresh fruits and vegetables has resulted in less food waste.

Leechburg Area School District Revamps Lunchroom

Description

In order to increase participation in school meals, increase vegetable sales, and increase sales of white milk, the Leechburg Area School District (David Leach Elementary School and the Leechburg Junior/Senior High School) revamped their cafeterias.

Baskets were purchased and signs and posters were created in conjunction with the art department with the goal of making the cafeteria a more inviting space. Menu items were given creative names and baskets of fresh fruit were displayed at two areas of the lunch line.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jamie Ogle
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 845-7701

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • It’s imperative to have an expert take a look at your program to determine which changes should be made.
  • Develop surveys for the students and work with members of the student council.
  • Remember that students notice the smallest changes.

Evidence of Success

  • Sales of fresh fruit increased by 73%
  • Sales of fresh vegetables increased by 55%

Glade Run Lutheran Services Revamps Cafeteria

Description

In an effort to encourage students to make healthy choices Glade Run Lutheran Services revamped their cafeteria. The menus were clearly posted on the doors entering the serving lines as well as at the entrance to the cafeteria. Students are offered samples of new menu items while they are waiting in the serving lines. Each staff member in the department attended training events which promoted positive interactions between students and staff. Cashiers were trained to suggest a salad bar sale to students and faculty members in an effort to increase the number of customers who choose to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. Another method promote the consumption of vegetables was incorporating more vegetable choices on the salad bar as well as displaying the vegetables in attractive black pans. Finally, informative, colorful posters have been displayed in the dining hall.
 

Contact Information

Contact Person: Michele Baxter
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Nutritional Services
Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 452-4453

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • Every little change makes a difference. Students are noticeably more interested and excited when they come for meal service.

Evidence of Success

  • Produce purchases have increased by 39%

Fairview School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

In order to increase participation in school meals, with an emphasize on vegetables and other healthy food options, Fairview School District revamped their cafeteria. Changes included revamping unused space by converting it to a condiment/spice station. Menus were posted in advance on the morning announcement and students with iPads (grades 4-12) had apps installed on them which announced the menu for the entire month.

Previously, the district made tasty and nutritious wrap sandwiches which were not selling well. By cutting them in half and displaying them in clear packaging with fruits and vegetables a popular grab and go option was created which students have commented upon favorably.
 

Contact Information

Contact Person: Lori Squires
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 474-3292

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • It really helps to see your lunchroom through somebody else’s eyes. We were putting condiments on the same cart which was used for years and did not notice how bad and out of date it was. The cart was removed and the salt-free spice area has been a big hit.

Evidence of Success

  • Participation increased approximately 8% from the beginning of the school year. Healthier options are being chosen and there has been an increase in fruits and vegetables and grab and go items.

Elk County Catholic High School Revamps Lunchroom

Description

In order to increase student satisfaction Elk County Catholic High School created a pleasant atmosphere in their lunch room and offered a greater number of menu choices.

The walls of the lunch room received a fresh coat of paint and murals and student art work now decorate the space. New counter tops were purchased and installed. A new cooler now displays freshly made salads and sandwiches. The menu also received a makeover with items getting new, intriguing names and pictures added to increase appeal

More menu items, coupled with attractive signs and a clean, attractive area has resulted in an increased student satisfaction level.
 

Contact Information

Contact Person: Kim Schlimm
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 834-7800

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • Student artwork creates a sense of ownership and an inviting atmosphere in the cafeteria.
  • Fun and interesting posters are enjoyable to view and provide useful nutritional facts.
  • Salads and wraps appear more enticing when displayed in a dedicated, see-through refrigerator.

Evidence of Success

  • A survey was sent home to the students regarding the changes implemented and the choices of food offered. Students were also able to provide feedback on additional items which they would like to see added to the menu. Results were positive, and data from the survey resulted in several new menu items. Examples include Taco Pizza, Buffalo potato rounds, steak subs, and a variety of fresh fruit.
  • Student attitude seems to be much better in the new lunchroom.

Connellsville Area School District Revamps Lunchroom

Description

In order to increase participation in school meals Connellsville School District purchased new dry erase signs for the serving line. The signs are bright and colorful, change daily, and students have remarked upon how eye catching they are. In addition, new serving containers were purchased for fruits and vegetables and reimbursable meals were “bundled” for easier purchase. Baskets of fresh fruit were displayed along the serving line and student/parent committees conducted surveys to obtain input on menu items. Taste tests were conducted and menu items received new, more appealing names. Finally, another row of white milk was displayed prominently.
 

Contact Information

Contact Person: Dawn Basinger
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Service
Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 628-3300

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • The bundled reimbursable meals were a huge hit. It takes a little while to prepare them but the students love to grab them and get going.

Evidence of Success

  • The bundled reimbursable meals resulted in a 97.8% increase in grab and go lunches for the quarter.

Conemaugh Valley School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

Conemaugh Valley School District, in an effort to increase participation in school meals and reduce plate waste, implemented Smarter Lunchrooms techniques at both their elementary school and Junior/Senior high school. All of the district’s schools are on one campus.

Changes included decorating the cafeteria for changes in seasons and holidays in order to create excitement in the lunch line.

Other changes included enlarging the sign which displays the daily menu and relocating seating in order to make the daily menu easier to read.

In addition, sample trays were displayed during Kindergarten and pre-K registration, so parents could see some of the food options.

Murals were painted and new trays were purchased for the Junior/Senior high school.
 

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jesslyn Anslinger
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 535-5523

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • Change posters and cafeteria decorations frequently (at least monthly). Students like to see change and they will be excited to see what is new in the kitchen/cafeteria.

Evidence of Success

  • Since the Smarter Lunchrooms changes were implemented breakfast and lunch participation has increased.
  • Breakfast participation has increased from 1-6% depending upon the menu.
  • Lunch participation has increased from 1-7% depending upon the daily menu.

Roberto Clemente Charter School

Description

In an effort to increase participation and encourage students to choose fresh fruits and vegetables Roberto Clemente Charter School embarked on an effort to improve its cafeteria. First, clutter was removed from the cafeteria, especially in front of the buffet table. Boxes and buckets had accumulated over time and they were removed, which freed up space around the buffet table. Concurrently, signs were made which promoted the menu and specific menu items. A billboard was created which featured individual cards promoting the daily feature. A colorful, clearly written menu was featured at the start of the line. Components of a meal were also clearly labeled to help students choose a reimbursable meal. Menu items which were not selling well (e.g. turkey and tuna burgers) were removed and new items were introduced. The number of fresh fruit and vegetables offered also was increased. This was done by involving a student advisory group and introducing taste tests for potential new items, such as hummus and pita bread. Cards were also placed in front of each item on the buffet table which described the item being featured (e.g. Black Bean Mexican Salad). In addition, the covers were removed from the steam pans to better showcase the items. Previously, students were unsure of all the choices they were being offered because the food was obscured by a lid.
 

Contact Information

Contact Person: Ruth Velez
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Manager
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 439-5181

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • Keep your cafeteria clean and remove all clutter around the serving area.
  • Feature fresh fruits and vegetables and observe which items your students choose.
  • Conduct a survey to determine what your students enjoy most.

Evidence of Success

  • Breakfast participation has increased from 100 students per day to 165-170.
  • Lunch participation has increased from 50% to 90%.

Centennial School District Implements Smarter Lunchroom Techniques

Description

In order to increase participation in school meals Centennial School District’s Davis Elementary School revamped their cafeteria with more signage, advanced announcement (prior day) of the menu, promotions, a phone app, menu boards, new creative names for meals, taste tests, a Student Food Committee, and increased marketing.

While they are waiting on A frame signs that utilize dry erase markers they have already implemented traditional posters and hand painted signs that feature the full menu in large print as well as individual menu items. Raffles for small non-food prizes were conducted for students who participated in school meals. The Food Committee was used to test and rate potential menu items, make menu suggestions, and create signs. The group also provided the idea to announce the following day’s lunch at the end of the period.

Menu items were given creative names such as Dinosaur Broccoli Bites, Tasty Tree Tops, X-Ray Vision Carrots, Mellow Yellow Corn, Power Peas, etc. At the high school level descriptive words such as crunchy, crisp, tender, golden, fresh, homemade, etc. were used. As these techniques get rolled out into the other schools each elementary school will get its own menu day (e.g. Davis Personal Pizza Day). Some entrée names are Nemo Ham and Cheese, Texas Toast Grilled Cheese, Totchos Libre, etc. The students enjoy Mix Up Days with different chicken options (nuggets, tenders, popcorn, drummettes, etc.) or a cheese stick option.
 

Contact Information

Contact Person: Shannon Stone
Contact Person’s Title: Supervisor of Food and Nutrition
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 441-6000

Category

  • Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • The importance of marketing cannot be overstated.

Evidence of Success

  • Participation had stagnated at 41% and after the changes consistently averaged 45-46%.

Upper Moreland School District Saves Money, Supports Local Farmers, With Locally Sourced Produce

Description

Working with The Food Trust of Philadelphia, Upper Moreland School District explored the possibility of sourcing fresh produce from local farmers which, while perfect in terms of nutritional content, taste, and texture, were cosmetically flawed. The Food Trust served as a liaison to approach local farmers to see if they would be willing to sell the district their “seconds” or items which were either cosmetically imperfect or of a slightly different size than that which is required by grocery stores.

Presently, apples have been purchased and served to students who have readily accepted them. In the future the district would like to source, among other items, sweet potatoes, root vegetables, broccoli, and zucchini.

Currently the students are enjoying fresh, locally grown apples which cost the district $12 a case, compared to the $18-25 a case from their previous supplier.

After developing a relationship with  local farmers the school district receives a weekly price list of available seconds from which they can order. The schools promote the farmers and this has created enthusiasm from the students and their parents, which should result not only in greater participation, but in greater sales for the local farmers. This has led to great working relationships with local farmers and in the creation of an annual Farm to School Day. One of the local apple farmers attended this event and gave a presentation to first graders. The students learned how apples grew, about different varieties of apples, and how they eventually wind up on the student's trays in the cafeteria.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Melissa Froehlich
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 830-1522

Objectives

  • Students will receive fresh, locally grown apples as part of the school nutrition program.
  • The district will save money by purchasing cosmetically imperfect apples from local farmers.
  • Farmers will sell produce which would otherwise go unsold.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Be careful to understand the details required by your supplying farmer. Minimum case sizes and shipping costs must be factored into your equation.
  • Be sure to follow proper procedures for procurement and to be compliant with all state requirements.
  • Because seconds, by nature, vary, be sure to use them as an adjunct to your program and have a back up in mind.
  • Be sure to promote the farms with whom you are working. Advertise them on your menus, in notes that go home to parents, and on your school's website.

Evidence of Success

  • Students have accepted the locally sourced seconds.
  • The district is saving money.
  • The district created an annual Farm to School Day which was attended by one of the farmers.

Vida Charter School Expands Garden and Uses it to Teach Students

Description

Students at Vida Charter School were involved in a variety of gardening activities. Students in grades 4-6, under the leadership of two science teachers, carried out experiments which involved exposing plants to varying amounts of light which was provided by an indoor light stand. They also planted tomatillo, pepper, and squash plants to transplant to the outdoor garden, and bean plants that the students later took home.

Grades K-3, as part of a Healthy Lifestyles class started tomato, cilantro, basil, broccoli, cabbage, and pepper plants which were also transplanted into the outdoor garden. These were later sold at the spring family fair and also taken home by the students.

Outdoors, students constructed two new 4'x12' raised garden beds, which doubled the outdoor garden space. Students transplanted seedlings that they had started indoors, as well as directly planted seeded lettuce, kale, spinach, and snow peas.

Second graders, with the help of a college intern, assembled a tumbling composter which expanded the school's child-friendly composting system.

Students at all grade levels enjoyed sampling the spring garden harvest which consisted of strawberries, lettuce, spinach, kale, and even the edible weeds lambs' quarters and purslane. Having the snow peas reach maturity a couple days before the end of the school year was a special treat, so the youngest students were able to see their crop through from seed to tasting.

Community collaboration helped to make the gardening experiences strong. Support was given from both Gettysburg College students and volunteers from Everblossom Farm. Mini-grant funding also enabled 12 of Vida's students to participate in a cooking and nutrition course (six sessions) at the Adams County Arts Council this spring. They prepared foods with nutrient-dense ingredients, highlighting fruits and vegetables. This experience equips the participating students with skills to use foods which can either be grown by themselves or purchased from a local farm or market.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Cynthia Maldonado
Contact Person’s Title: Executive Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 334-3643

Objectives

  • To maintain and expand the indoor and outdoor gardens at Vida Charter School
  • To allow students more opportunities in gardening
  • To use the school garden for classroom science study
  • To have plants for sale at family spring fair

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Start small and use what resources you have available.
  • Look for opportunities to expand your garden and include the community.

Evidence of Success

  • Students are enthusiastic to plant, visit, and harvest the garden.
  • Students are willing to try items grown in the garden and are more likely to be adventurous when it comes to trying new foods.
  • The new garden now includes two new garden beds and a new composter.

Upper Moreland Township School District Expands Existing School Garden

Description

The new food service director at Upper Moreland Township School District had little existing knowledge of gardening but she knew that she wanted to continue with and expand upon the existing school garden program.

The district started with a Spring “Clean Up” project. A local landscaping business supplied three volunteer workers for a day to help clean out the entire garden which provided for a fresh start to the year. Fresh mushroom soil was purchased to ensure that the plants would have the necessary nutrients to thrive. The garden beds were outlined with pavers which were provided by Home Depot. The same company also donated most of the seeds and starter kits needed to begin the growing season. Twenty classrooms from grades K-2 volunteered to grow seeds in their classrooms. In the beginning of April all the classes started to grow a variety of flowers and vegetables, including marigolds, sunflowers, basil, pumpkins, watermelon, varieties of lettuce, peas, cucumbers, and spinach.

The district was originally going to have a larger percentage of vegetables but wanted to keep the garden student friendly and ended up planting more cold crops so that they would have lettuce and herbs before students left in June before returning in the Fall to see pumpkins and watermelons. While the students grew plants in the classroom the district planted three fruit trees. Outside the garden are now planted one pear and two apple trees. In mid-May the district created a schedule for each classroom to come out for “Garden Days” in which they would re-plant their classroom produce into the garden. It took five days to finish all the planting. The students loved coming into the garden and learning as they planted. Several volunteers came to help out as well including Jackie Froehlich from the Bucks County Youth Center and Kelsey Porter from The Food Trust, both of whom shared their gardening experience with students.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Melissa Froehlich
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 830-1522

Objectives

  • To work with students to expand the existing school garden

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Advice

  • Make sure you have teacher and staff support and enlist the aid of students. It would not be as fulfilling if the students did not participate in the planting and growing of the garden.
  • Make sure there is enough space in the garden for all of the classes that want to participate. A lot of plants need to be at least a foot apart from the next plant. With 20 classes of about 24 students each, this can be difficult.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for donations.
  • It's better to start small and expand than to attempt something that is too difficult to accomplish properly. The best idea the district had was to have the garden grow mostly when the students were in school.

Evidence of Success

  • The garden is growing and is beautiful.
  • The students were excited to plant items in the garden.
  • The students show interest in the garden, ask about the garden activities, and have learned about gardens and cooking with herbs.

Union City Area School District Enlists Diverse Groups to Save School Garden

Description

Several years ago community gardens were built on the property of the Union City Area School District. The district was unable to garner enough community support to maintain the beds throughout the summer months and the gardens fell into disrepair. In an effort to save the gardens the school district implemented an Agricultural Education program within the high school. The students in this program, along with their Agricultural Education teacher, have organized a collaborative effort to care for the gardens over the summer.

Various community groups, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, youth groups, family volunteers, and school employees were recruited to maintain and harvest the garden during and after school and over the summer months. The students organized the schedule, assisted the volunteers, planted seedlings and transplanted them, inventoried and maintained the needed supplies, ensured that hoses were turned off, harvested produce, etc. All activities are conducted under the supervision of the Agricultural Education teacher. The program was designed to develop the leadership capabilities of the students, provide a valuable community service, and teach gardening to interested parties.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Joan Quickle
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Curriculum and Special Programs
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 814-438-3804

Objectives

  • To re-activate the community gardens located on school district property
  • To teach students leadership and gardening skills
  • To provide a valuable community service

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Get an early start on recruiting help and organizing the volunteers.
  • Use all available resources and enlist the aid of various community groups.
  • Don't forget family members and school staff.
  • The volunteers must have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and know whom to contact for assistance, if needed.

Evidence of Success

  • Community feedback has been positive.
  • The project is on track. Materials have been purchased, seeds and seedlings planted, and the community has been organized. Further evidence will occur after the final harvest.

State College Area High School Students Grow Vegetables With Aquaponics

Description

Using aquaponics (a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water) helped students get “up close and personal” with growing produce without using a soil-based garden. They now understand that local food production can happen year-round and that aquaponics is easy to set up and use as a food producing system.

Aquaponics was also used as a living ecosystem to demonstrate the biology, chemistry, and ecological concepts used in a high school biology course. First, a large (230 gallon) system was purchased. Next, each class built a small, desktop aquaponic system which was kept in the classroom. The larger system was used to produce food (mostly different types of lettuce) which was used throughout the school year in the school meals program. At the end of the year the fish (tilapia) from this system were harvested for an end of year celebration and the students enjoyed tilapia Po'boy sandwiches. The desktop systems didn't go online until later in the year and the students kept the fish for pets and took the greens home and planted them in their home gardens.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jack Lyke
Contact Person’s Title: Biology Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 231-5020

Objectives

  • Students will be able to demonstrate how food, leafy greens, and fruiting vegetables can be grown with aquaponics in a small scale home-use system.
  • Students will be able to explain the nutritional differences between locally grown produce and produce shipped from out of state and farther.
  • Students will be able to describe the taste difference, involving several human senses, between locally grown produce and produce shipped from out of state and farther.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Setting up a fish tank aquaponics system is easier than you think and students will gravitate toward the fish and plants growing in the system.
  • Use the aquaponic system to teach related lessons in biology, chemistry, and ecology.
  • Any advice needed to start a project like this can be on the Jack Lyke Facebook page called “Aquaponics at State High.” Just message Jack and he will help you get started.

Evidence of Success

  • The kids adopted the system as their own and cared for the fish and plants. Fish were taken home by the students to place in their own fish tanks and ponds and growing plants were planted in home gardens when the school year was over.
  • Overall there were many great comments about using aquaponics in the classroom from students, and colleagues frequently stopped by to see the fish and plants.

Fallsington Elementary School Partners With Local Farm: Pennsbury School District

Description

Fallsington Elementary School in Pennsbury School District partnered with a local farm to teach students lessons on nutrition and farming. Snipes Farm and Education Center has programs set up which both enter the school classroom and allow students to enter the farm and learn about farming. Two classroom-based lessons were provided (where members of the farm came to the school to teach the students) and there were corresponding taste-tests which accompanied the lessons. These lessons were given to each grade level and were tied to Pennsylvania academic standards. The students were also able to participate in the collection, cleaning, and donation of locally grown apples to the community soup kitchen. In the future it is planned to include classroom extensions to the farm which will allow for hands-on lessons in farming.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Brian Shaffer
Contact Person’s Title: Principal
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 428-4170

Objectives

  • To increase student knowledge of the nutritional value of foods
  • To promote life-long healthy food choices
  • To encourage the consumption of locally grown foods
  • To provide students with the opportunity to serve their community

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Advice

  • Look for farms that specialize in educational experiences for children.

Evidence of Success

  • All grade levels benefited from two classroom-based lessons with corresponding taste-testing events.
  • Both teachers and students are looking forward to the expansion of our program during the upcoming school year.

Penn Hills School District Students Learn Native American Growing Technique

Description

Penn Hills High School formed “The Garden Tribe,” named in honor of the school's mascot, the Indians. The group consists of high school students, teachers, and school board and community members. Their goal is to learn more about the history of different cultures using gardening as a teaching tool, and about better nutrition via healthy eating.

The Garden Tribe started by learning the basics of the Three Sisters Native American growing process. According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. This tradition of inter-planting corn, beans, and squash in the same mounds had been used by generations of native Americans to ensure a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided for long term soil fertility and a healthy diet for generations. Growing a Three Sisters garden was a great way for students to feel more connected to the history of the land, regardless of their ancestry. Many of the students who live in apartments, and did not have access to yards, learned square foot gardening.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Stefanie Raspotnik
Contact Person’s Title: Professional Development and Funding Coordinator
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 793-7000

Objectives

  • Students will learn the history of the Three Sisters Native American gardening and crops and how it relates to healthy eating.
  • Students will learn the process by which food goes from seed to table, including planning, planting, caring for, and harvesting garden crops.
  • Students will learn to have an appreciation of intergenerational collaboration.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Provide a structured forum for the school community (students, parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members), along with community residents, to share their own rich history and culture of gardening experiences.
  • Plan and communicate a schedule identifying garden responsibilities including a lead person assigned to garden-specific activities throughout the school year and summer. The lead person needs to ensure all maintenance is performed, especially if volunteers are scarce during the summer break.
  • Promote special garden events well in advance to ensure strong school and community support.

Evidence of Success

  • A school board member stated that the Penn Hills School District's Garden Project was “a community gem” which enabled the students to embrace the opportunity to work with staff and community members to learn the basic techniques of gardening and healthy eating.
  • The Garden Tribe is collaborating on efforts to start gardens at both the district's elementary schools.

Oley Valley School District Students Sample Farm Fresh Food

Description

Oley Valley School District wanted to expand the culinary horizons of their elementary school students with taste-tests of local, new, and different produce. In addition, the district wanted to increase student awareness of where their food actually came from. Oley Valley Elementary School scheduled three different taste-tests with their students during all lunch periods throughout the school year. Items chosen to sample included snap beans, raspberries, and black seedless grapes. In addition, tomatoes were grown in the cafeteria for the students to observe. Each afternoon the tomato plants were put outside the cafeteria door to get more light and were returned during the scheduled lunch times so that the students could follow their growth.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Barb Nissel
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Consultant
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 761-5194

Objectives

  • To expand the culinary horizons of elementary school students with taste-tests of local, new, and different produce
  • To increase student awareness of where food originates

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Good planning is essential.
  • Parental assistance is helpful if your cafeteria staff members do not have the time to circulate among the students in the cafeteria once they are finished serving.
  • It is important for all students to participate in the sampling, not just the students who purchase a lunch.
  • Communicate with the school nurse to ensure there are no problems with allergies.
  • Have signs that announce the taste-tests and the nutritional content of the items being sampled.

Evidence of Success

  • The students were very excited about each sampling.
  • School and food service staff members have already inquired about samplings for the coming year.

North Allegheny School District Uses Economics Lesson to Teach Nutrition

Description

Family and Consumer Sciences students were given a choice: Should they purchase asparagus which had been shipped from California to their local grocery store, or should they purchase asparagus from a local orchard, given that they shared the same price ($3.99).

They learned that the nutritional content of the asparagus was higher when it was harvested the day before as compared to a week earlier, as it had been for the California produced product. Next the economics teacher taught the students how their local economy was affected by keeping their money circulating locally as opposed to having it transferred out of state with little chance of returning. Finally, the students prepared a meal based on local ingredients. This was a “veggie-heavy” tortellini dish which consisted of two-thirds locally grown vegetables (tomatoes, garlic, basil, and asparagus). The exercise taught the students how to increase their vegetable consumption as well as the benefit of choosing locally grown produce. Students outside of the Family and Consumer Sciences program also were able to sample this meal, which was enjoyed by all and consumed in its entirety.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Rachel LaSatis
Contact Person’s Title: Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 934-7233

Objectives

  • To empower students to make healthy food choices
  • To educate students about the economic superiority of choosing locally produced food
  • To inspire students to share what they learn in the classroom with their friends and families

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Advice

  • Be sure to use the freshest ingredients possible.
  • Having the students prepare the meal themselves will result in greater enthusiasm for tasting the results.

Evidence of Success

  • Many students have prepared this meal for their families on Mother's Day.
  • The students were enthusiastic about the project and there were no leftovers.

New Foundations Charter School Offers Students Limitless Possibilities

Description

New Foundations Charter School wanted to inspire students to experiment with their food and begin to see how many healthy possibilities there are in the world. Many young people in Philadelphia are living in food deserts. This limited access to healthy options can prevent them from preparing snacks and meals for themselves and trying new things. New Foundations wanted to inspire students to try new foods and see how easy and fun it can be to recreate them on their own.

New Foundations sent students from the club HEAT (Healthy Eating Advocacy Team) on a field trip to a local farm and to a pizza place that focuses on local, organic, and healthy ingredients. Students toured the farm and were able to see large, fully functional hoop houses, a chicken coop, and goats. They also were able to plant several starters that were used for a CSA. Following the farm visit, they went to Pizza Brain, a local pizza shop that values healthy, local, and fresh ingredients. Students were able to select, bake, and enjoy a delicious pizza while witnessing the entire farm-to-table process. They were also able to see how their favorite foods, like pizza, can still be healthy when quality ingredients are used and care is taken.

On their field trip, HEAT students were able to see farm-to-table in action and were inspired to share what they learned with their peers. After their field trip students implemented the skills and knowledge they gained to lead food demos and tastings in the school cafeteria. Each was led entirely by HEAT students and most of the recipes were picked by them. They prepared the recipes in the cafeteria with fresh and healthy ingredients. Recipes were made available for students to take home with them.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Shira Woolf-Cohen
Contact Person’s Title: Principal
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 624-8100

Objectives

  • To spark a deeper interest in gardening and healthy eating in our students
  • To see a more active role from students involved with HEAT (Healthy Eating Advocacy Team)
  • To witness students eager to recreate healthy options at home

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • While it can be difficult logistically to coordinate a field trip to a farm on the same day as a restaurant, it proved to be very helpful in making the farm to table connection for students.
  • It was important to coach students on how to narrate cooking steps.
  • Plan your menu as far ahead as possible and consider which produce is in season.
  • Have ingredient alternatives to show students. It will help to show students how creative cooking can be.

Evidence of Success

  • HEAT attendance increased 100%.
  • Approximately 80% of students took a sample at each demo and more than 90% of them took the recipe home with them.
  • Four more students entering middle school have expressed interest in HEAT and will be joining in the fall.
  • HEAT students have shown interest in working in the New Foundations school garden.

Lehigh Career & Technical Institute Provides Career Training for Special Needs Students

Description

Special needs students enrolled at Lehigh Career and Technical Institute are able to enroll in a Seed-to-Plate program which helps them train for careers in food production and preparation. The program began with the input of a local farmer who helped students and staff with the planning and preparation of a school garden.

The farmer gave the school helpful hints and techniques for garden preparation and maintenance including watering, insect control, and companion planting. The plants started under grow lights in a window that leads to the cafeteria. Hundreds of students pass the plants each day on their way to the cafeteria. This same hallway is home to the “Cafe Garden” which features raised beds and picnic tables so the students can witness the progress of the garden and be inspired to make healthy choices while on their way to lunch.

The special needs students are involved in planting, maintaining, and harvesting the items which are used in a variety of salads and herb dressings. Herbs are used in the preparation of other items which are then served during the staff lunch period and in items used for bake sales. Proceeds are used to support additional funding needed for field trips to the nearby Rodale Experimental Farm and the farmer's market.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Sandra Himes
Contact Person’s Title: Executive Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 799-1322

Objectives

  • To provide special needs students with training for careers in food production
  • To expand garden space and grow vegetables and herbs to be used for on-site training and cafeteria purposes

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Involve area farmers or master gardeners-they are a valuable source of information.
  • Start with a small garden and use some plant plugs as well as seeds so students may experience a harvest before leaving for summer break.
  • Involve students in the planning, planting, harvesting, tasting, and creation of food items so they understand the “seed to plate” cycle.
  • Involve staff members in the project to give students support and feedback.

Evidence of Success

  • Students take pride in their accomplishments.
  • Students talk about the project outside the classroom with other staff members, students, and their families.
  • Students are more aware of healthy food choices and are trying food items that are new to them.
  • Some students are creating gardens at home and trying recipes with their families.

Lancaster County Career and Technology Center Creates School Garden

Description

The LCCTC created two hydroponic tables (12'x4') and two tables (also 12'x4') of traditional, potted vegetables and herbs. The hydroponic tables included Boston Leaf Lettuce containing a total of 300 plants and two tables of potted plants with an assortment of 30 herbs and 50 vegetables. The hydroponic tables were customized into hydroponic systems by purchasing hoses and pumps and using pre-existing large tubs and the growing tables. Hydroponic float boards with holes to fit the net pots were used to put each plant in and set on the tables. The pumps are on timers that fill the table with water every four minutes and drain back into the tub. This occurs every 40 minutes. Every two weeks the water is changed and new nutrients are added. The potted plants are watered approximately every other day and must be watered last thing on Friday afternoon and first thing on Monday morning, since the building is closed on the weekends.

Students were able to pick the leaves of most of the herbs to use in the culinary program for savory dishes and also to learn about how each herb interacts with heat, and tastes with other foods. By having the opportunity to taste, feel, and smell the fresh herbs, students have learned the differences and the value in these plants. The herbs included a variety of types including basil (five types), chives, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, stevia, thyme, and lemongrass. Students were also introduced to some less common vegetables including beets, bok choy, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, as well as the more common broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, onions, and spinach.

The project will continue for the following school year with the idea of beginning early in the year to allow for additional harvest cycles and a wider variety of plants and herbs. A seasonal schedule will be developed as an expansion to the project.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Mike Moeller
Contact Person’s Title: Special Projects Coordinator
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-464-7050

Objectives

  • To create an indoor school garden by using the school greenhouse
  • To grow a variety of produce for the LCCTC culinary students to use in the classroom
  • To promote the use of fresh and locally grown products by having future culinary workers experience them first hand
  • To discuss and create multiple growing systems including traditional potted soil and hydroponic methods
  • To partner with local experts to teach students best practices for gardening

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Partner with local experts in planning the project. Seek out Master Gardeners, greenhouses, and farmers.

Evidence of Success

  • The project was successful in developing a school garden that is being used to assist with a career and technical education culinary program.
  • The garden is teaching future chefs and bakers the importance of using fresh local products.
  • The project has increased local partnerships with other parties with similar interests.
  • The excitement of the project has spread to other campuses within the system as other programs are looking to purchase equipment to preserve, package, and distribute a “school brand” of produce.

Keystone Central School District Receive Nutrition Education

Description

In late winter selected students at Mill Hall Elementary School began conducting research about designated foods. These foods were divided into four categories: root vegetables, greens, herbs, and berries. Items included purple potatoes, fingerling potatoes, carrots, turnips, dandelion, romaine, arugula, kale, parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. The students developed presentations for their schoolmates. They also created posters that summarized nutritional information. These were displayed in the cafeteria. Prior to each event classroom teachers gave lessons about descriptive words to use when talking about flavors, textures, and aromas. In the spring the presentations were delivered to two grade levels at a time and were followed by a taste testing of each food. Every student in the school sampled all of the foods which were made available. The produce was purchased from a local farmer, Hidden Meadow Farm and items which were not in season were procured through a local grocery store.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Rebecca Gugino
Contact Person’s Title: Enrichment Specialist
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 726-3105

Objectives

  • Students will try a variety of produce.
  • Students will develop an understanding about how foods benefit them.
  • Students will take interest in discovering new foods and their health qualities.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • This project requires a lot of organization. Have some pre-project meetings and give faculty a chance to give input. They will have great ideas to make these events run smoothly.
  • Create a newsletter to go home during the events. Include information about the foods as well as ways to prepare them.

Evidence of Success

  • Students were able to recall information from presentations and link them to new foods. For example antioxidants ("vitamin super-heroes" fighting "chemical bad guys") became a common word at our school.
  • Many students completed independent projects about foods they tried.
  • Parents requested preparation ideas for foods the students discovered that they liked.
  • Taste testing events were looked forward to by the school community.

Jamestown Elementary School Plants School Garden and Visits Farmer's Market

Description

Learning about gardening is a life long skill. Students at Jamestown Elementary School began the process by investigating how to garden, including methods of composting. Using books and the internet the students planned the project of building a school garden consisting of three raised beds. Before planting items in the garden the students learned about gardening from knowledgeable community members. They learned about seed selection, dirt preparation, cafeteria composting, growing, and tending to the garden. A team of “Garden Guardians” was assembled which tended to the garden over the summer. Students traveled to a local PA farmer's market in May and then returned for a harvest celebration in September, and harvested and tasted their own produce at the end of the summer.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Julie Harris
Contact Person’s Title: Retired 6th Grade Teacher
Email: 
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 720-7369

Objectives

  • Students will learn how to garden.
  • Students will visit a local farmer's market.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Remember to constantly update information for students (e.g. posters, books in classroom, other information to promote the garden).
  • Try to give students hands on experience with actual farmers.

Evidence of Success

  • Students pretest/post-test scores on gardening were improved.
  • Students were interested and enthusiastic about gardening and volunteered during recess and during the summer to work in the garden.
  • Students contributed to a PA Farm to School recipe booklet on nutritious farm foods.
  • There is now ongoing composting at the Jamestown Area Elementary School.

Hazleton Area Career Center Builds a School Garden

Description

Special Education students at the Hazleton Area Career Center successfully planned, planted, and harvested a school garden. Students researched various herbs and vegetables to determine which seeds would be most likely to flourish in our climate. Various math and science lessons were created around these concepts. The Culinary Arts instructor provided guidance and assisted in ordering seeds and materials. Construction Technology students built four raised beds which serve as the focal point of the garden. Items harvested by students include tomatoes, peppers, kale, okra, basil, and parsley. Harvested items will be used by Culinary Arts students to make and jar spaghetti sauce which will be served in the school's on-site restaurant. Plans are in place to expand the garden yearly, which will include a water feature and flowers. Building a greenhouse is also a goal in order to extend the growing season.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Angela Avillion
Contact Person’s Title: HASD Transistion Liaison
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 233-7923

Objective

  • To create a school garden

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • A greenhouse will help extend the growing season. Students grew seeds inside until May, but even then, the weather is so unpredictable that the threat of frost kept them from planting outside until early June.

Evidence of Success

  • Gardens beds have been constructed and produce has been harvested.

Great Valley School District Offers Elementary Students Garden Fresh Taste Tests

Description

Great Valley School District uses local produce, often from their own school garden, to prepare items for their Farmers Market Taste Testing Program at their elementary schools. The samples are fresh, homemade, and free. Items sampled include mushroom soup, roasted broccoli and carrots, and sweet potato mash. The items are served free to students during lunch service with accompanying lessons on the nutritional benefits of the item being sampled. Feedback is encouraged from both students and staff.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Kelsey Gartner
Contact Person’s Title: Nutrition/Garden Coordinator
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 322-8037

Objectives

  • To induce positive changes in student perception toward trying new foods
  • To determine which recipes are well received and introduce them onto our regular cycle menu
  • To significantly reduce fruit and vegetable waste
  • To have teachers serve as role models by trying new foods in front of students

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Be aware of the food allergies of your students and plan accordingly.
  • Keep recipes simple and avoid items which contain common allergens in order to reduce concerns of parents, students, and staff.
  • If an item is not a hit try it again at a later date, possibly in a different form. Sometimes it takes several taste test experiences for students to decide they actually liked an item.

Evidence of Success

  • After the kids taste the sample they are asked if they would buy the item if it were offered in the cafeteria. The mushroom soup received great feedback. Asking for verbal feedback will enable a school to see if it will be welcomed on the menu. Students are candid while giving feedback.

Chester Upland School District Offers "Chef 2 School" Experiences and Family Luncheon

Description

Chester Upland School District devised a series of six events, spread out between February and May, which they called Chef 2 School Experiences. This involved hosting a Master Chef at the school who worked with the students to create a salad using ingredients with which most of the students were unfamiliar. The chef taught the students about the ingredients (what they offered nutritionally) as well as how best to choose, handle, and prepare the ingredients. Together they made a salad which was served, along with the normally scheduled items, at a Family Luncheon afterward, which the students, as well as their parents, were invited to attend. At the luncheon the chef also taught the parents how the salad was made and parents were given recipes as well as the produce needed (via a program called Family Food Distribution) to recreate the salad at home.

In addition to the luncheon, parents were encouraged to visit classrooms to observe what their children were learning in school. This positive experience allowed the school the opportunity to share with parents ideas for healthy food as well as what it is their children are doing each day in school. Parents who attended had a much more positive view of the school's nutrition program than they did before attending a Family Luncheon.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Janet Baldwin
Contact Person’s Title: Principal
Email: 
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 306-0767

Objectives

  • Children will learn, from a Master Chef, how to prepare fruits and vegetables in non-traditional ways.
  • Children will learn, from a Master Chef, lessons on nutrition.
  • Children and their parents will have the opportunity to enjoy lunch together which feature the salad that the children and Master Chef has prepared.
  • Parents will be given recipes and ingredients to make the same salad at home.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Have a series of luncheons and spread them out over the school year. Doing so will enable the message to be reinforced, parents will have the opportunity to visit during different times of the year, and there will be more opportunities to share positive nutritional ideas.
  • It is important to coordinate the event with the school's food service staff and with teachers who can plan complementary lessons.

Evidence of Success

  • The participation rate was much higher than anticipated.
  • Parents stayed to visit the children's classrooms. They had positive comments regarding their child's school experience and photos taken record the fact that the parents enjoyed spending time with their children at school.
  • Recipes and ingredients were taken home by parents.
  • Parents, staff members, and students raved about how tasty the salads were, and how they were prepared in unexpected ways. Foods such as kale, spinach, dried cranberries, cabbage, and carrots were introduced in ways that would preserve their nutritional value and provide healthy options for children and their families.

Burgettstown Area School District Creates High Tech School Garden

Description

Burgettstown Area School District turned an outdoor courtyard into a garden with raised self-watering beds. The original objective was to grow vegetables that could be used in Foods classes and by 4-H members’ projects. As the project started to take shape more interest was expressed from students who were observing the garden. Five students chose the garden as part of their senior graduation project. Four students are creating augmented reality learning stations for each plant.

Using Aurasma (a web site for creating augmented reality pages), these seniors have created an interactive activity for each vegetable. When a garden visitor holds an iPad over the picture of the vegetable, on stakes in the garden, they are connected to a picture and recording of what the plant is. They learn nutrition information, planting information and see pictures of the plant when it is ready for harvest. Interest in the garden has grown and elementary teachers would like to be able to use the garden as a learning center not just for growing vegetables but also as an interactive learning lab.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Sharon Baillie
Contact Person’s Title: Family and Consumer Science Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 947-8100

Objectives

  • To turn an outdoor courtyard into a garden with self-watering beds.
  • Students will grow vegetables that could be used in foods classes and by 4-H members as projects.
  • Special education summer program students will help maintain the garden.
  • To create an “augmented reality” learning station for each plant in the garden.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • The target pictures for the vegetables need to be simple with high contrast.
  • Both younger and older students like to visit the garden and try the app, so make sure the recording is appropriate for all age groups.
  • Keep the message short so visitors can view several plants.

Evidence of Success

  • The original plan was to have the garden and raised beds. As the project progressed both students and teachers became more interested and contributed new ideas and effort and now the garden is becoming a classroom for both the elementary and high school students.

Brandywine Heights Elementary School Students Garden

Description

The Brandywine Heights Elementary School Garden Committee, consisting of the school principal, food service staff, Business Manager, Secretary, teachers, and other school personnel, distributed “Seed Kits” to each K-3 classroom. This allowed students to plant and tend to the seedlings until they were strong enough to be planted in the raised bed garden located by the front door of the school. The school maintenance staff built the raised beds and supplied the soil. Family and community groups tended the garden over the summer. Gardening tools and gloves were located in the school office for those who came to the garden during school hours. The garden consists of two raised beds each being approximately 5 feet by 12 feet. This allowed for two rows of crops in each garden, thus allowing external student access. One raised bed has heirloom and Roma tomatoes, along with basil. The other raised bed garden is growing pumpkins, zucchinis and carrots. Everyone was kept informed of the project via email. Students tasted products from the garden upon their return to school in the fall.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Ilyse Moyer
Contact Person’s Title: Business Manager Sec
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 982-5141

Objectives

  • Students will experience every aspect of gardening.
  • Students will experience the superior qualities of locally grown produce.
  • Students will be motivated to try new fruits and vegetables.
  • Students will learn and understand the origin and sources of their food.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • It was helpful to have a supportive Garden Committee to assist with the garden during the school day. They assembled Seedling Kits, supervised the construction of the raised beds, and were present to help plant seedlings when needed.
  • Support from the superintendent, principal, and other school staff is essential for success.
  • Involve all stakeholders in your garden project. Parents, school board members, local vendors, and students from other grade level schools are a wonderful help.

Evidence of Success

  • The enthusiasm among the school personnel and parents was infectious. Everyone that viewed the garden was talking about it.
  • The superintendent has asked for a larger garden and possibly additional gardens at other school locations.

Berlin Brothersvalley School District Creates School Garden

Description

Berlin Brothersvalley School District's agriculture teacher, with guidance from a Green Grower from the Penn State Extension office, conducted classroom lessons each day about how to grow produce in a greenhouse. Students were taught about the proper soil, fertilizer, water, planters, and seeds needed to start the growing process. Students started with seeds, watched each day, and recorded the growing process of plants. They used fertilizing and watering schedules to track the growth because each plant requires a different time period to incubate and grow into a beautiful vegetable. The gardens were maintained by the students via a weekly schedule during the spring semester. Volunteer students and staff maintained the plants over the summer months until they were harvested in August.

Signs were posted in the cafeteria announcing that soon it would be featuring school garden fresh produce on the salad bar. Teachers encouraged students in the classroom by teaching them about growing and harvesting produce. Vegetables grown include tomatoes, onions, green peppers, cucumbers, and broccoli, all of which were used in the school cafeteria. The food service staff spent an in-service day learning how to properly clean, prepare, and care for garden fresh vegetables.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Catherine Berkebilen
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 267-4621

Objectives

  • Grow produce at the school which will be used in the school cafeteria.
  • Students will experience planting produce and watching it grow.
  • Harvest produce from the garden without bruising plants.
  • Food service staff will learn cleaning measures which will ensure sanitary conditions.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Ensure that produce will be grown in the proper temperatures. This winter was so harsh that even indoor growing was a challenge.
  • Teach the students the responsibility of taking care of something that grows and develops into an edible product.
  • Remember that it takes more time to clean fresh produce straight from the garden versus vendor delivered produce.

Evidence of Success

  • The owner of the organic farm was pleased with the students' attentiveness and service hours on the farm.
  • Students planted and harvested produce which was used in the school cafeteria.
  • Salad bar attendance increased after introducing garden produce.
  • Students learned valuable lessons on planting, watering schedules, team work, cooperation, and harvesting techniques.

Valley Grove School District Markets Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Description

Desiring a way to encourage students to choose fresh fruits and vegetables as part of their reimbursable school meal, Valley Grove School District devised a marketing plan. A different fruit or vegetable was featured each month on the school menu and that item was featured. A creative name, bold graphics, and various signs and locations were utilized to encourage students to choose the featured item.

The item chosen (e.g. Bongo Blueberries) was attractively displayed in strategic locations such as the exits from the school line and near the cash register. This also allowed cashiers (in conjunction with prominent signage) to gently suggest the item to passing students. Presentation and color were carefully considered to create the most attractive display possible.

Another tactic used was making fruit salads to encourage students to try an item with which they might not be familiar. For example, it is known that the students love grapes. Since they are an expensive, popular item they were mixed with other fresh fruits which were more affordable and less well known.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jeremy Bergman
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 437-3759

Objectives

  • To increase fresh fruits and vegetable consumption during the service of reimbursable school meals

Category

  • Working Toward Meeting the HealthierUS School Challenge

Advice

  • Relentless promotion will generate interest and buy in from the students. It was fun to watch the interest in the program grow.

Evidence of Success

  • During the state audit the auditor commented on how excited the students were to see the fruit, and the large percentage of students who chose to take fresh fruit.

Northern York County School District Conducts Pumpkin Gleaning

Description

Northern High School's FFA students have a club called “FFA Harvest Club” which picks produce from the district's 22 garden beds as well as gleans produce from local farmer's fields. Gleaning is the process of harvesting the last bits of produce left over from a growing season.

This produce is used in the schools for taste testing. Additionally, the FFA Harvest Crew conducts an annual Pumpkin Gleaning event. This involves buying pumpkins from a local farmer, selling them to elementary school students, and corresponding lessons for the students.

Pumpkins are pre-sold to elementary school students via a take home order form. The students then go to the farm and pick their own pumpkins with the help of members of the FFA Harvest Club. The students get to tour the farm and learn about farming and pumpkins. In addition, there are more pumpkin related events at the schools which include cooking with the pumpkins (e.g. pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie) and floriculture designs.

The farmers are paid by the FFA, which is then reimbursed by the elementary schools. The elementary schools keep the difference to fund their farm to school programs.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Carol Richwine
Contact Person’s Title: Agricultural Education Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-432-8691 | FAX: 717-432-1241

Objectives

  • To educate students about agriculture by utilizing farm tours
  • To support the local economy by procuring local produce
  • To raise funds for the Farm-to-School garden

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Be organized prepare lessons carefully.
  • Be sure to pay the farmer a fair market price.
  • Take along trash bags and hand sanitizer and ensure that the farm provides bathrooms which are suitable for elementary school students to use before and after lunch.
  • Do not have too many students in a learning station. Four students per station is a good number.
  • Organize the activity around the second week of October when people normally purchase their pumpkins for home.

Evidence of Success

  • Over the course of two years over seven thousand pounds of produce have been gleaned.
  • Money is now available for seeds, gardening tools, and other supplies for elementary farm to school programs.
  • Over 300 students participated in teaching and learning agricultural literacy lessons, farm to fork experiences, and horticulture lessons.
  • Student-approved healthful recipes have made their way into high school cafeterias through this program.

Fairmount Alternative School Increases School Garden: State College Area School District

Description

As a downtown alternative education facility space is at a premium and new ways are always being sought to engage the students and stimulate their interest.

With this in mind the school looked for new ways to grow plants via a hydroponic garden in the classroom, and indoor greenhouse system to start seedlings and a new space to grow plants. This new space was an herb garden created from corrugated pipe, a series of potato pots and a raised trellis garden bed in which vining plants are grown.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Patrick Wills
Contact Person’s Title: Counselor
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 814-932-2352 | FAX: 814-272-7800

Objective

  • Expand the existing school garden
  • Increase the variety of crops
  • Students will use the school garden to facilitate classroom discussions and for hands on learning

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Include the students in decision making. This will generate student buy in and they will be more likely to get involved and try new vegetables.

Evidence of Success

  • Students were constantly asking if they could use their free time to go to work in the garden.
  • Students were all vested in the garden's success and were all willing to try new food items that they helped to grow.

Getting Excited About Eating: Charlestown Elementary School Students Take A Role In Preparing Their Food

Description

Our promising practice was the construction of a two raised bed garden at one of your four elementary schools, Charlestown Elementary. We already have a large garden at KD Markley Elementary School and found that while all the children in the district receive fresh produce from KD Markley, not all were able to see the process from seed to table. By growing produce in their own school on a smaller scale, the children at Charlestown Elementary are able to take part in the growing and harvesting of their produce. This allows the kids to take part in preparing their food which makes them a lot more excited about eating it. This past season we grew kale, broccoli, cauliflower, rainbow swiss chard, cabbage, and lettuces.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Kelsey Gartner
Contact Person’s Title: Nutrition/Garden Coordinator
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 889-2125 | FAX: (610) 889-2125

Objective

  • To build a raised two bed garden in an elementary school
  • To show the students what hard work it takes to grow produce
  • To allow the kids to come out and harvest the produce
  • To get the students excited about eating the produce that they picked
  • To help address the childhood obesity issue with fresh fruits and vegetables

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

We recruited an eagle scout to help us build the raised beds. He was able to complete construction in just a few days after we bought him the materials. He leveled the ground and pulled up existing weeds and grass before starting. The school put together a watering schedule and recruited the classrooms to volunteer to water the garden on a daily basis. We did find that a few of the plants like the kale and cabbage were highly desired by pests. Next year we will not be planting these and in their place plant beets or carrots instead.

Evidence of Success

We have harvested lettuce and used it for the salads on the lunch line as well as taste tested the fresh kale in salads and kale chips. The kids, teachers, and staff have told us how excited they are to be able to see the plants at various stages of growth.

Arts Academy Charter School Uses School Garden for Lunch Menu and Science Class

Description

Arts Academy Charter School wanted to start a school garden to supply fresh produce to their primarily urban student population, to allow the food service staff a chance to create new recipes, and to include in the school curriculum.

The science class started seeds in the classroom which were transferred into the school garden and these items were used to study plant growth in science class.

During the summer months as the items from the garden were harvested faculty used the food provided by the school garden in recipes which were used to feed the students and staff during summer camp activities. Some of the recipes were frozen to be enjoyed while school was in session during the fall and winter months. Zucchini bread and salsa were two of the favorite foods of both the staff and student body.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Carole Ondrovic
Contact Person’s Title: Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-351-0234 | FAX: 610-351-0307

Objective

  • Students and faculty will sample fresh produce in new recipes which will be sourced from the school garden.
  • Students will use school garden produce to study plant growth in science class as part of the school curriculum.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • It is helpful to grow foods that are both common and slightly uncommon. For example, everyone is familiar with tomatoes but fewer people are familiar with yellow or orange tomatoes, dark purple Cherokee tomatoes, etc. Using different varieties shows students that vegetables exhibit variety and need not be boring.
  • Be sure to enlist parent/family support for the garden during the summer months. The garden needs to be weeded, watered, and harvested during the summer and specific tasks should be assigned and scheduled.
  • The families which are assigned garden tasks can contribute recipes based on their likes, ethnic preference, etc.

Evidence of Success

The students and their families were enthusiastic about the garden, incorporating its produce into the school lunch menu, and volunteering for garden maintenance. This year the garden will be expanded with more boxes, fencing, and increased variety of items.

Exeter Junior High School Maintains and Renovates School Garden

Description

Exeter Junior High School recently completed a renovation of their existing school garden. The planter boxes were dilapidated and needed to be renovated with new wood and hardware. The school also decided to incorporate composting barrels which were fashioned from garbage cans. This enabled the students to learn about the complete life cycle of plants and how to maintain the soil organically without the use of chemical fertilizers.

The project's first step was planning the renovations. Students were required to detail the work that was to be done, choose appropriate seeds, locate where they should be planted, choose ideal locations for the planters, and make a list of needed tools. The actual construction work was completed by adult volunteers and the work was completed in time for the growing season.

Because of time constraints caused by the block semester schedule quickly maturing items had to be chosen. The result is that students had to learn how to interpret the growing instructions on the seed packets and many chose to plant items with which they were unfamiliar. After learning how to care for a garden the students eventually weeded, thinned, transplanted, managed pests, mulched, and watered the garden. When ripe, the students harvested the crops and brought them home to share with their families.

In the meantime students learned about acceptable and unacceptable compost ingredients and compiled organic material for compost barrels. After decomposition students buried the compost in the garden beds for the next semester's growing season.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Gretchen Hess
Contact Person’s Title: 7th Grade Life Sciences Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-779-3320 | FAX: 610-779-0678

Objective

  • Students will, with the aid of adult volunteers, renovate dilapidated garden boxes.
  • Students will plan, plant, care for, and harvest garden crops.
  • Students will compile, maintain, and use compost barrels.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Remember to teach students that composting and gardening work together to complete the plant life cycle. Students should learn that composting is a form of recycling and that it returns nutrients to the soil.
  • Allow enough room between garden beds to allow a riding mower to pass between them.

Evidence of Success

  • A successful garden harvest is evidence of success. Students harvested a significant amount of food from each garden bed and reported positive feedback after taking their items home and sharing it with their families.
  • Students recycled over 100 gallons of organic matter, turning it into a useful soil additive and eliminating the need for chemical fertilizer.

Global Leadership Academy Charter School Promotes Farm-to-School with Food Day

Description

Global Leadership Academy developed three initiatives to increase healthy eating and living habits:

  1. Farm trips for all students in grades K-2,
  2. Expand the offering of the school garden and include nutritional education as part of the garden experience, and
  3. Host school-wide taste tests featuring foods from the school garden.

Adult and youth wellness councils plan and execute activities which are vigorously promoted such that they are anticipated with lively enthusiasm by students and staff alike. One such event is a yearly fall Food Day in which the entire school community participates. The day starts with an Apple Crunch, wherein everybody stops what he or she is doing at noon and eats a locally grown Honeycrisp apple. In addition, nutritional education announcements are read over the intercom by the student youth council the media covers the event.

Global Leadership Academy partnered with an urban farm located less than one mile from the school which donated eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and assorted lettuces. A partnership was also formed with a local chef who provided a live workshop for the school food service staff which learned how to prepare meals using these fresh foods.

Students and teachers supported Food Day by paying to sample the food items, and enjoyed music, dancing, and presentations which celebrated Food Day. Money collected was donated to local food banks in support of fresh food access.

With a minimal cash outlay and a dedicated team Global Leadership Academy has developed sustainable wellness programs that involve and excite the entire school community.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jiana Murdic
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Wellness Initiatives
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 215-498-5520 | FAX: 215-247-2971

Objective

  • Students will gain a greater understanding of our local food system via local and school gardens.
  • The school community will experience locally grown foods.
  • The school will embed wellness activities and nutrition education with the academic curriculum.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Identify the students, parents, and staff who will support health and wellness activities and recruit them
  • Generate buy in by assessing the interests of your council members and implement programs which are of interest to them.
  • Start small and don't become discouraged.
  • Be flexible and build on the momentum of your successes.
  • Identify and cultivate potential partners within your community.

Evidence of Success

  • Comments from students, staff, and parents are consistently positive and people constantly inquire about upcoming wellness events.
  • The most recent events, including Apple Crunch, taste tests, and Food Day have been embraced by administrators and adopted into the future school calendar.
  • The school food service staff makes meals from scratch two days a week with plans to increase to five days a week in the near future.
  • Partners request ongoing opportunities to work together.

Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School : Students Experience Locally Produced Food

Description

Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School students studying Culinary and Health careers teamed with the school food service staff and a local farmer to promote fresh farm products. The farmer, from Taylor Farm, is located seven miles from the school. Members of the farm came to the school to discuss the processes involved in farming. Items made from the farm's produce were sampled including strawberry rhubarb pie, smoothies, quiche, roasted acorn squash, and butternut squash macaroni and cheese. The farmer also provided locally grown fruits, vegetables, beef, and dairy products which the entire school population was able to sample during several event days. These days were promoted by Health career students via colorful posters which educated students about the benefits of eating fresh, local food items as well as the nutritional content and health benefits of particular items.

Meanwhile, the Culinary Arts students researched and developed recipes which highlighted the locally-sourced items and prepared them for taste testing on event days. On event days the Health career students provided additional on-site educational materials which targeted specific food items. In total, approximately 80 students were involved, along with staff from the culinary program, lunch program, and health staff.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Lisa Blank
Contact Person’s Title: Business Administrator
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-866-8013 | FAX: 610-866-6124

Objective

  • Students will experience local farm products in new and exciting recipes.
  • Students will learn about the nutritional benefits of local farm products.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • By serving a specific food item in a variety of different ways, in smaller portions, you increase the likelihood of its acceptance.

Evidence of Success

  • Several items which were taste tested have been incorporated and have gained acceptance on the regular school lunch menu.

Greater Nanticoke Area School District Uses Garden Produce for Family Meals

Description

The Greater Nanticoke Area School District started planting seeds in its small greenhouse for use in the school garden. These seedlings were maintained and watered by elementary and high school students until they were ready to be planted.

The district owns a tract of land adjacent to the high school which was originally used to farm vegetables. A 40 by 50 foot long section was used to grow vegetables and a raised bed was constructed to grow herbs. The maintenance department, several high school students, and the environmental science teacher worked together to prepare the area for tilling and the science department tested the soil and determined the proper fertilization needed.

The garden consists of tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers, herbs, cabbage, onions, and more. While school was in session during the Spring, several high school students and elementary students worked together to care for the garden by weeding and watering. Over the Summer watering was done by high school students working on their senior project, family center staff, family center volunteers, and the maintenance staff. They also helped to harvest the food that ripened over the Summer and Fall.

The produce was taste tested by the administration staff and donated to the school's family center. They distributed the produce to families over the summer and early fall. This allowed them to serve nutritious meals at home.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Frank Grevera
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Buildings and Grounds
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 570-735-2453 | FAX: 570-735-0229

Objective

  • Students will empirically learn the process by which food goes from seed to table.
  • Students will receive better nutrition than they have in the past.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Start with the basics but don't underestimate the students’ knowledge or desire to learn about nutrition and working with their hands and with others.
  • Make a plan to maintain the garden over the summer. It's always a challenge to water and weed the garden when school is not in session.

Evidence of Success

There was ample produce harvested which was supplied to needed families. This helped to provide proper nutrition to all the families involved. A diverse group of individuals worked together for a common purpose and the result was worth the effort.

School Garden Designed to Engage All the Senses: HMS School for Children With Cerebral Palsy

Description

HMS School for Children With Cerebral Palsy wanted to design a school garden that was not only wheelchair accessible but would also involve all five senses. Since some students have impairment of one or more senses it was important to ensure that the senses which the student does rely on are fully engaged in the garden experience.

The garden is constructed so that it is fully functional for a person in a wheelchair. Beds can be raised and lowered, students can independently access water and compost, and the garden provides a sensory environment by offering wind chimes, strong smells, and a range of textures.

Harvested items are used in a cooking group so the students can learn the process of how food goes from a seed to their table. However, some students are unable to eat by mouth. Therefore, it's important that they can experience the fruits and vegetables by smelling and touching them

Contact Information

Contact Person: Shannon Sokolski
Contact Person’s Title: Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-324-4336 | FAX: 215-222-1889

Objective

  • Students in wheelchairs will be able to independently access the garden.
  • Students will experience a garden which engages all five senses.
  • Students will learn how food goes from seed to table.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

Even if your students are not physically challenged you can improve the garden experience by making the garden more accessible and by involving all five senses. Divide all the elements of your garden into these five categories and ask what your garden provides.


Touch: How can people reach your garden? It can be made more accessible by having beds and planters that can be raised or lowered with a pulley system. Also, what feels cool to the touch? What feels rough? What feels smooth?


Smell: What smells good? Offer a variety of smells with popular herbs such as basil, rosemary, and oregano. Some wonderful smells, such as lemongrass, can provide double-duty by warding off pests such as mosquitoes. This will enable the students to enjoy the garden more.


Sight: Provide a variety of colorful plants such as strawberries, peppers, pumpkins, and tomatoes. Include colorful wind chimes and sun catchers.


Hearing: We can't hear the garden grow but we can hear the sound of rain into the rain barrel, the sound of water from a hose, the sound of a wind chime as the breeze blows.


Taste: This is self-explanatory but try to include a variety of tastes and textures such as sweet, sour, savory, crunchy, etc.

Evidence of Success

The staff, students, and parents are all impressed with the garden area. The crop exceeded expectations and was used to teach the students about growing food and cooking. Students took plants home to continue to grow at home.

Forbes Road Career and Technology Center Embraces Exotic Vegetables

Description

After growing traditional school garden items such as lettuce, peas, and peppers Forbes Road Career and Technology Center students expressed a desire to try vegetables with which they were unfamiliar. Surveys revealed that the students wanted to taste test items that they perceived to be exotic or unusual such as parsnips and kohlrabi.

Landscape Design students constructed beds and Horticulture students planted seeds. After the vegetables were harvested Culinary Arts students created items for taste testing. Currently the school's food service department is working on incorporating the more popular items into the school menu.

The project sparked enough interest that it is being expanded and an Advertising Design teacher is working on a campaign with the goal of involving the community and including them in taste tests.

In addition, the school is working on developing an Agricultural Food Production class which will include the school garden.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Daniel Overdorff
Contact Person’s Title: Horticulture Instructor
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 412-373-8100 | FAX: 412-373-8106

Objective

  • Students will sample a variety of unfamiliar vegetables.
  • The Landscape Design program will grow vegetables and fresh herbs in the Forbes Road greenhouse to be used in the Culinary Arts program.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Gardens require constant maintenance even in the Summer, so plan accordingly.
  • Planning is also required to ensure that planting and harvesting go smoothly. Prepare a schedule of growing times.

Evidence of Success

Planting and harvesting in the greenhouse is continuous and items are being sent to the Culinary Arts program at set intervals. Students have begun to purchase seeds on their own and have started gardening at home.

Harrisburg Math and Sciences Academy (Harrisburg School District) Partners With Business and Community

Description

The Harrisburg Math and Sciences Academy partnered with Seed Savers, an heirloom seed company from Iowa. The founder of the company visited the school garden and explained to the students the differences between heirloom and GMO seeds and provided the school with genetically unmodified seeds.

In addition, a local CSA, Cool Beans, and Broad Street Market both contributed plants and seeds to the garden. A broad range of items including many different varieties of peppers, tomatoes, berries, herbs, lettuces, etc. were planted as well as flowers which were chosen for their ability to attract certain kinds of insects as well as helping to pollinate the garden.

Approximately fifty students volunteered at least ten hours each to the project which not only included planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting but also establishing relationships with residents in a nearby retirement home. These residents shared the garden and its produce as well as stories and life lessons with the students.

The school garden also served as an outdoor classroom for lessons in science, nutrition, and the local economy. During warm weather classes were held in the garden which dovetailed with the school curriculum.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Cynthia Craig-Booher
Contact Person’s Title: Program Grants Administrator
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-703-4519 | FAX: 717-703-4127

Objective

  • Students will be encouraged to volunteer in the school garden.
  • The school district will find partners with whom they can work to expand and improve the school garden.
  • Students will share the garden with members of the local community.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Partner with your community, local farms, farmer's markets and seed companies.
  • Include the students in the planning phase. This will serve to empower them and generate buy-in for the program.

Evidence of Success

  • Local farms and businesses have pledged support of the garden project.
  • The garden has been featured in favorable articles in local newspaper and television.
  • The success of this program has resulted in the school district's approval to fund a hydroponic lab for the coming school year.

Seasonal, Locally Grown Produce Introduced to Antietam School District

Description

Antietam School District worked with their produce supplier to bring in seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables which students may not have tried at home.

Three taste testing events were held at each of the schools which enabled students to try the new items in their raw (uncooked or processed) state. During the following months these same items were incorporated into the school lunch menu, which allowed them to try the items cooked. Teachers and cafeteria staff distributed information about the food items the students were trying and encouraged them to take home the fact sheets, activity books, and recipes to share with their families. In addition, the produce vendor made a television presentation which was shown to the high school students.

Featured items included Empire apples, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, Asian pears, and corn and black bean salsa. All of these were incorporated into the school lunch menu.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Cynthia Jaromnak
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-779-0377 | FAX: 610-779-4424

Objective

  • Students will experience seasonal, locally grown produce in the following ways:
    • Students will be given nutrition education on seasonal, locally grown produce.
    • Students will taste test seasonal, locally grown produce.
    • Students will have seasonal, locally grown produce incorporated into their school lunch menu.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Offer new items to all students more than once. It takes time for the students to learn to like new things.
  • Generate buy in with the staff. Student acceptance is much more likely to occur when staff acceptance is already in place and cafeteria workers promote the new items.
  • Plan everything out in advance. Things will go much more smoothly.
  • Be sure to get feedback from everyone involved.

Evidence of Success

  • Great feedback was received from students and parents.
  • New food items have been incorporated into the cafeteria menu.
  • When a new item was absent from the school menu for a length of time students would ask for it.

Chef Training on Learning to Cook Locally Grown Produce - Owen J. Roberts School District

Description

The Owen J. Roberts School District has been involved with Farm to School for some time. In addition to having school gardens, taste tests, and nutrition lessons, the school foodservice director has made it a goal to purchase and use local, in season produce when possible.

To support this goal chef Bill Scepansky was hired to train 42 food service workers about how to prepare meals utilizing healthy local ingredients such as root vegetables and beans. These meals must not only be healthy and compliant with new food service regulations but they must also be delicious and accepted by students.

Chef Scepansky taught knife skills, how to handle and prepare fresh, local items, how to season items without using salt, and tips on preparing meals which stay fresh during their holding time. The staff learned how to make a basic minestrone soup which could also be transformed into other soups (e.g. Tuscan Vegetable) depending upon what is local and available.

The high school student body president was involved in a taste testing/advertising event that promoted the new items on the school lunch menu.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Joanne Rechtin
Contact Person’s Title: School and Community Engagement Consultant
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-469-5967 | FAX: 610-469-0403

Objective

  • The school food service staff will utilize fresh, locally procured items on the school food menu.
  • School food service staff members will learn how best to prepare locally grown produce.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Ongoing training is a must. The staff should receive continuing education on how best to prepare meals.
  • Promote new items with taste tests and advertising.

Evidence of Success

Sales reflect that students will purchase foods when they know more about them and have had a chance to try them. It was a surprise to learn that high school students would purchase tasted food at an even higher rate than elementary school students. This was particularly true for a Baked Zucchini Parmesan dish. In the past food was promoted more in elementary schools than in the high school but data has shown that older students should not be given up upon. In addition, there was extensive positive feedback from the staff. Workers felt empowered to create healthy, tasty meals, and expressed a desire to continue to do so.

Students in Urban Setting Experience Farming: Pottsville Area School District

Description

Most of the students in Pottsville Area School District have little to no experience with rural settings, farming, or healthy snacks. To combat this, first graders were taken on a field trip to Jersey Acres farm and taught the origins of their food. A guided tour of the farm provided lessons on what is required to produce the food that eventually ends up on a student's plate, the kinds of produce which are locally grown, and the challenges which farmers face.

Once back home these lessons were incorporated into the Food, Land, and People curriculum in the classrooms. To complement these lessons the students planted mixed lettuce, herbs, and vegetables in their classrooms and these items were then placed in the school solarium. Each class took turns tending to these items.

In the Spring, once the threat of frost had passed the students transplanted the items to raised beds in the school courtyard and continued to water and care for their produce. During the last week of school a local chef instructed the students to create their own salad dressing which they used on the items they harvested from the garden. Students who participated received a sticker and were encouraged to share their knowledge with their families when they arrived home.

During the Summer Title 1 Reading Challenge students were given fruits and vegetables for taste testing, many of which came from the school garden.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Mary Ellen Setlock
Contact Person’s Title: Federal Programs Coordianator
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 570-621-7684 | FAX: 570-621-2025

Objective

  • Students who live in an urban setting will experience the rich agricultural milieu which borders their city.
  • Students will learn the basics of farming and about locally grown produce.
  • Students will plant and harvest fruits and vegetables, taste them, and create recipes utilizing their harvest.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Reach out to the community. You will likely be surprised at the support which local businesses will provide.
  • Spend time budgeting for your project and form a team to envision every conceivable expense. It's prudent to budget for some unexpected costs.

Evidence of Success

  • Students kept science journals, logged their personal experiences, as well as charted the growth of their seedlings. This provided a tangible, measurable, way to keep track of their progress.
  • A year later the children are still discussing their farming adventures and the fun that they had making salads. These children can answer questions about farming and healthy snacking which they were unable to do before the project.

Penn Manor School District's Garden Provides an Outdoor Classroom for Students

Description

Students studied the parts of a plant, raised their own broccoli, spinach, leaf lettuce, strawberries, radishes, sweet potatoes, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and pumpkins. They also re-purposed an old plastic kiddie pool into a makeshift garden box filled with broccoli and lettuces. The children enjoyed poking holes in the bottom of the pool to facilitate drainage before filling the container with soil and planting seeds.

Students served their own garden produce in the form of zucchini bread, tomato salsa, pepper salsa, and mint tea to parents who visited the garden during a Garden Open House. The biggest hit of the night was the pepper salsa which was a family recipe of the assistant principal.

The entire student body participated in a “mystery ingredient” contest*. The cafeteria prepared muffins using the mystery ingredient (sweet potatoes from the school garden). Then students tasted the muffins and guessed the mystery ingredient. There were over 550 guesses.

Plans for 2014 include growing all of the above plus Mexican sweet gherkins on the entrance arbor. The school is also purchasing an indoor grow light cart that will travel between classrooms. This will enable students to study how seeds germinate and grow under different conditions. Classes will grow vegetables on their windowsills to be transplanted to the outdoor garden in the Spring. Students will taste garden-grown strawberries and the student body, which exceeds 600, will compete in a “Strawberry Poetry Competition.” The winning classrooms will have a strawberry sundae party. Sixth grade leaders will open a stand at lunch and give out stickers to students who try new vegetables (spinach and radishes) from the garden.

*When providing food items with ingredients that are unknown to the students, be sure to be aware of possible food allergies and intolerances before providing the food.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Grace Julian
Contact Person’s Title: Garden Committee Member
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-684-4153 | FAX: 717-872-9515

Objective

  • The garden will provide students with an outdoor classroom where they can learn about, grow, and eat nutritious food.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Involve various groups in your garden such as Boy/Girl Scouts, local farmers, and businesses.
  • Invite families to taste testings at a garden open house.
  • Incorporate state standards into the garden lessons.

Evidence of Success

  • Since the garden was implemented, Kindergarten through second grade students have a better understanding of the life cycle of plants as seen by verbal assessment.
  • Fifth graders have tried foods they normally would not have because they grew the items themselves.
  • The staff garden chair noted that “When kids go out into the garden their faces relax.” It's a place of beauty, exploration, and discovery.

Northern Middle School Students Use Their Garden to Provide School Meals: Northern York County School District

Description

Northern Middle School in Northern York County wanted to introduce their students to the basics of food production and to teach them about nutrition and healthy eating. It was decided to utilize their greenhouse and have students research lettuces which could be effectively grown in this environment.

Northern Middle School students planted colorful lettuces in their school's greenhouse and maintained the garden by watering, controlling pests, and harvesting the items. By continuously farming the greenhouse, even over the winter, the students were able to turn a crop in 40-50 days.

Students then taste tested the greens and worked with the school food service staff to come up with menu items that were offered on the school lunch menu.

In addition, these special, garden grown items were promoted by the students in the school via posters, morning announcements, etc.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Carol Richwine
Contact Person’s Title: Horticulture Teacher/FFA Advisor
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-432-8691 | FAX: 717-432-3975

Objective

  • Students will plant and harvest colorful greens which will be used for school meals.
  • Students will coordinate with the school food service director to establish when meals featuring the garden greens will be served.
  • Students will promote the special meals within the school.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Choose the highest seed quality and a commercial organic soil mix.
  • Build some simple beds using 2x4 boards and plywood bottoms.
  • Be sure to plant varieties of greens which are suitable for greenhouse production.
  • Involve the students in seed selection, taste testing, and meal promotion.

Evidence of Success

  • Salads often sell out which creates more of a demand.

Wickersham Elementary School Uses Garden Produce for Taste Tests and Education: Lancaster School District

Description

Wickersham Elementary School students learned the importance of eating healthy, locally grown food, and about seasonal vegetables which grow in their area. Master Gardeners came to the school in the Fall and gave the students lessons on gardening. The students started vegetables from seed and transferred them to the garden. Items included spinach, beans, and root vegetables. In addition, the teachers involved in the garden committee developed a newsletter that included fitness tips, healthy recipes, and gardening tips. The newsletter is shared with parents and students. Once the vegetables were harvested they were used in various recipes for taste-testing during the school day.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Joseph Torres
Contact Person’s Title: Music Teacher/Garden Champion
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-291-6291 | FAX: 717-399-6403

Objective

  • Students will be engaged in a series of lessons about planting during the fall season.
  • Students will begin planting seeds indoors and transfer plants outside to the garden.
  • Teacher training will be conducted so that all staff and students are educated in the planting process.
  • Healthy snack recipes will be researched and product made available for taste testing.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Have students research the most hardy seeds that will withstand a wet or dry Fall season.
  • Have students research healthy recipes and share their knowledge with their families.

Evidence of Success

  • Students were able to use literacy, math, science, writing, and research skills which were integrated under the umbrella of Health and Wellness.

North Montco Technical Career Center Uses Garden Produce for School Meals and More

Description

North Montco Technical Career Center expanded its garden activities by having carpentry, horticulture, and culinary arts students work together to expand the school garden, implement taste testing, and develop new menu items that are sourced from the school garden.

The carpentry students researched and built above ground planter boxes while the horticulture students planted, cultivated, and maintained the beds. Culinary arts students trimmed, harvested, and incorporated the vegetables and herbs and used them for taste tests and to prepare food for school meals from menus they also designed. Academic concepts specific to the school curriculum were integrated into the project.

Once harvested the items were used for a series of five taste tests involving 15 students and eight members of the school staff. Items included spaghetti, roast chicken, pizza, meat loaf, and turkey dinner. The results proved that everyone could easily discern the superiority of garden-provided produce versus commercially-procured (and sometimes dried or processed) items.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Robert Lacivita
Contact Person’s Title: Administrative Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 215-368-1177 | FAX: 215-855-7929

Objective

  • Students will taste-test fresh garden produce against commercially purchased items.
  • Students will incorporate garden items into school meals.
  • Students and staff will work together to increase school garden planting.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Incorporate facets of the school curriculum into the project.
  • Having students from various disciplines work together will foster a team atmosphere which may allow students to discover a new level of autonomy and capability.

Evidence of Success

  • The school garden was expanded with new raised bed planters.
  • Produce from the school garden is being incorporated into the school meal program.

Exeter Township School District Holds Tasting Events to Promote New Food Items

Description

Exeter Township School District contracted with Chef Bill Scepansky to provide recipes and cooking techniques to four elementary school head cooks. After their training the cooks helped coordinate tasting events in each school. These events introduced students to new items which are locally grown and served in season. Parents helped in the events, which helped to reinforce the lesson to the students’ entire families. Every student, including those who normally bring their own lunch, was invited to participate. The first tasting event featured corn and black bean salsa, which is now a regular part of the school lunch menu. Other items included roasted butternut squash, Napa cabbage slaw, stir-fried bok choy, and Tuscan white beans with rosemary and Parmesan.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Gloria Clay
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-779-0700 | FAX: 610-779-1085

Objective

  • The cafeteria staff will be inspired to prepare new, healthy, locally grown and seasonal food items.
  • Students will be served the new items and learn about them.
  • The school lunch menu will incorporate new items which the students response to favorably.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Be sure to offer the new food items to all students. Doing so increases participation.
  • Involve parents in the project.
  • Take pictures of the new items and display them in the cafeteria as well as the school newsletter.
  • Remember to inform the school board of your activities.

Evidence of Success

  • Some of the items have been incorporated into the lunch menu.
  • Some students who previously brought their lunches now purchase a school meal.

The Urban League of Pittsburgh Charter School Uses Garden Produce to Teach Students About Their History and Culture

Description

The Urban League of Pittsburgh Charter School wanted to expand their garden to include items of historical and cultural significance to African Americans, such as collard greens and turnips.

Because space is at a premium at this downtown school it was decided to implement wooly pockets, which are a type of hanging planter. The pockets are able to hang from a greenhouse, thus no additional space is required for their use. In addition, the garden beds themselves have been expanded.

After the students, teachers, and volunteers implemented the changes the vegetables were used for classroom lessons on African American history and culture.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Teresa Grande
Contact Person’s Title: Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 412-361-1008 | FAX: 412-361-1042

Objective

  • Expand school garden to include traditional African American crops.
  • Students will learn about their history by utilizing vegetables grown in the school garden.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Be creative. All schools face obstacles such as a lack of space or funds but creativity can combat these issues.

Evidence of Success

  • Students have been making recipes using the newly introduced items
  • Students have had history lessons using the new vegetables and have shared their newfound knowledge with their families.

Students Experience School Garden In Classroom Radio Park Elementary School: State College Area School District

Description

Radio Park Elementary School's school garden is over ten years old but is being continually updated to reflect changing teaching standards and objectives. Lessons about early America are brought to life with the Colonial America and Lewis and Clark plants. Students learn how early settlers first experienced food such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and squash and then brought these items to Europe and the rest of the world. They learn how early colonists lived and strategies they learned to survive.

Students learn the benefits of choosing locally grown produce. They learn how important farming is to the Pennsylvania economy, how costly it is to transport produce great distances, and how locally grown items can be fresher and more nutritious than items which are developed primarily to withstand long distance transport.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Chip Clark
Contact Person’s Title: Garden Parent Volunteer
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 410-610-3777 | FAX:

Objective

  • Integrate school garden into curriculum to enhance lessons.
  • Emphasize value of locally grown vegetables.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Meet with each of your school's learning groups during the winter to understand the upcoming curriculum and integrate the garden into it.
  • Have elements in your school garden to keep interest high. Planting unusual vegetables, providing literature, and incorporating math, science, and foreign languages into the garden via colorful and informative posters will all help to generate interest.

Evidence of Success

  • Teachers in all grades participate and use the garden to help teach lessons. Students are interested in the signs with “garden” in different languages. This starts conversations about different cultures in which students from diverse backgrounds participate.

Upper Bucks County Technical School Uses Greenhouse for Year Round Growing

Description

The Upper Bucks County Technical School has a forty year old greenhouse which it has been renovating. When finished, it will include a hydroponic garden, new acrylic panels, new heating and cooling systems, and state of the art controls which will enable it to be viewed and operated via computer and smart phone.

When completed the greenhouse will offer year round growing and the produce will be used in the school nutrition program with excess being sold at the annual Mother's Day plant sale.

The greenhouse has been renovated to the extent that it is now operable, and students have already planted lettuce, tomatoes, snap peas, sweet and hot peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jeremy Kunkle
Contact Person’s Title: Landscape Construction and Plant Technology Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 215-795-0530 | FAX: 215-795-0530

Objective

  • Renovate existing greenhouse to current state of the art.
  • Grow vegetables year round.
  • Use vegetables for culinary arts, school meals, and annual Mother's Day plant sale.

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Have a plan to deal with destructive insects.
  • Develop a plan to pollinate the plants. Students can research ways to hand pollinate plants.

Evidence of Success

  • The greenhouse is up and running, although improvements are ongoing.
  • The culinary program has already received a batch of lettuce, snap peas, and tomatoes.
  • The plumbing department is working on a hydroponic system.

Students Experience Garden From Seed to Cafeteria Radio Park Elementary School: State College Area School District

Description

Radio Park's vegetable garden was upgraded with a larger grow light this year which enables students to start growing vegetables earlier indoors from seeds before transferring them into the outdoor garden. The students plant, care for, and harvest an array of unusual vegetables including heirloom potatoes and tomatoes, strawberry popcorn, Mexican sour gherkins, rutabagas, and more. This piques student interest and develops their palate and appreciation for how diverse, delicious, and nutritious vegetables can be. When harvested the vegetables are used for taste-testing and in school meals. To complement the garden activities students visit a farm cooperative, enjoy lessons from local chefs, are involved in garden and produce-related art projects, and incorporate the garden into classroom work.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Chip Clark
Contact Person’s Title: Garden Parent Volunteer
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 410-610-3777 | FAX:

Objective

  • Plant unusual vegetables to stimulate interest.
  • Incorporate garden produce into the cafeteria meals.
  • Keep students involved from seed starting through eating the harvest.
  • Students will learn about complete plant life cycles, including human consumption, via hands-on learning

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Provide complete kits and instructions for successful seed starting, with backup kits just in case.
  • Plant unusual colors, forms, and types of vegetables.

Evidence of Success

  • Students requested favorite vegetables from previous years to be grown again.
  • Cafeteria requested more Mexican sour gherkins from the garden due to student demand.
  • So many seedlings were raised that the school was able to share with other schools, churches, and the food bank.
  • Many students and visiting parents made favorable comments on about the informational posters.

McConnellsburg High School Implements Hydroponic Lettuce Garden Central Fulton School District

Description

Students in McConnellsburg High School's agriculture production class constructed a hydroponic lettuce growing system. This system involves growing produce in nutrient-rich water without the use of soil.

The students did research on hydroponics and learned what was required to fertilize lettuce, defeat pests, and manage the system. They were responsible for all aspects of constructing the growing system and reading and following all the instructions to ensure the system was constructed properly and functioned correctly.

Lettuce was started as seedlings in rock wool growing cubes and when the seedlings reached an adequate sized they were transferred into the hydroponic system.

As the lettuce matures it will be harvested and used in the cafeteria. The hope is that enough lettuce will be harvested to meet the salad needs of the school.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Ann Meyer
Contact Person’s Title: Agriculture Education Instructor
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-485-3195 | FAX: 717-485-0175

Objective

  • Students will construct a hydroponic lettuce growing system in the school greenhouse
  • Students will maintain the lettuce growing system to produce lettuce for the school cafeteria

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Allow a little extra in your budget for unexpected expenses. We discovered that we needed instruments to test our growing solution.
  • Involve students in the planning process in order to generate buy-in. Create committees for the different phases of the projects.

Evidence of Success

The students were involved from the beginning of the project. They successfully constructed the growing system, which is fully functional and in the process of growing lettuce.

Marple Newtown School District Features Local “Vegetable of the Month”

Description

Four elementary schools in the Marple Newtown School District featured a “Vegetable of the Month” which was grown, or could be grown, in Pennsylvania. Vegetables featured included sweet potatoes, cabbage, grape tomatoes, asparagus, kale, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts.

Each month a vegetable was featured, a simple recipe was prepared, and fun facts were assembled which related to the vegetable. Then, a food service staff member went to each school and prepared the vegetable for taste testing. A one ounce serving was served to each student, and parent volunteers in the cafeteria who chose to participate. The staff member used encouraging remarks to inform the students of the benefits of the vegetable, monitor student response, and record feedback.

Students who participated received stickers and the following month the featured vegetable could be found on the lunch menu. Information about the program was posted on the school website.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Eileen Bellew
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Service
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-359-4275 | FAX: 610-359-4367

Objective

  • Students will be able to sample new vegetables
  • Students will learn about Pennsylvania-grown produce

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Plan ahead and be flexible with your tasting days
  • Be sure to give stickers to participants. It increases participation and encourages a dialogue between students and parents after school.

Evidence of Success

  • Participation was high and feedback from students, parents, and staff was positive

Garden Club Promotes Farm to School: Rainbow Elementary School, Coatesville School District

Description

Rainbow Elementary School has had a school garden for over sixteen years. The Greenhouse Garden Club is an after school club that maintains the garden and has various activities. In addition to planting and harvesting the club engages students in such activities as taste-testing, story telling, and lessons on science, nutrition, and wellness.

This year students who planted carrots last year in kindergarten were able to taste-test those carrots as first graders. The students also participate in other activities such as field trips, meeting and sharing their knowledge with other children (this year they met with Girl Scouts and their younger counterparts, the Daisies), winterizing the garden, and maintaining and improving the garden with items such as urns, planters, and shrubs.

Their big activity, however, was incorporating a three-tiered indoor greenhouse, which will enable the students to start seedlings indoors to get a jump on the growing season, as well as to observe and learn about the life-cycle of plants from seed to harvest. In total, about 75 students are involved in the club.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jennifer Chrisman
Contact Person’s Title: Faculty Advisor for Elementary School Garden Club
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-383-3780 | FAX: 610-383-3784

Objective

  • Students will learn about nutrition and healthy eating
  • Students will continue to learn about IPM-integrated pest management
  • The garden club students will continue to plant and maintain four raised bed salad gardens with the help of a newly installed indoor greenhouse

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Partner with another organization, such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. This is especially beneficial in the summer months when students are not readily available to maintain the garden.

Evidence of Success

  • This year there was another successful spring harvest which provided enough salad ingredients to feed over 100 students.
  • The after school garden club has continued to be supported by an enthusiastic school board despite budget cuts to other programs.

Multi-Tasks With Hydroponic Gardening: Athens School District

Description

Athens School District uses hydroponics to teach students about gardening, health and nutrition, economics, and science.

Approximately 350 high school students toured the Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority. This is a landfill which generates methane gas which is used to generate electricity and heat that powers a hydroponic garden. Hydroponics is a subset of agriculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil.

Lettuce from the Northern Tier garden was combined with other vegetables grown at Athens School District's own hydroponic garden and a salad taste-test was enjoyed by students in the cafeteria during a normal school lunch. Part of the taste-test included nutrition education where students learned about portion sizes, calories associated with typical ingredients, and the nutrition content of fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition, the students learned how their town's economy is affected by the production and purchase of local goods and services.

Athens School District also has a hydroponic garden and indoor greenhouse which provides fresh products for students, faculty and staff.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Brian Wilcox
Contact Person’s Title: Educator
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 570-888-7766 | FAX: 570-888-4038

Objective

  • Students will use the greenhouse to produce fresh local produce
  • Students will learn how locally grown foods promotes their town's economy
  • To strengthen the connection between the school cafeteria and local food producers

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Before beginning make a positive affirmation to see the project through. Be fully committed.
  • Involve the students from the beginning of the project. Doing so generates their buy-in and ensures that their love of fresh food and gardening will be passed on to future generations.
  • Don't forget to involve the press. Doing so will demonstrate to the general public the good that is being done in schools and that you are trying to help stimulate growth in the local economy.

Evidence of Success

  • The taste-test of a local salad was a huge success and nearly every student participated.
  • Students in Horticulture class who were involved in growing hydroponic vegetables expressed an interest in continuing to study the field in college
  • Positive local press was generated from the project

Farmer’s Markets, Recipe Contests, and Local Chefs Educate Students: Great Valley School District

Description

In 2007–08, we conducted a farmer’s market several times a month during lunchtime at the Great Valley Middle and High School. Retired teachers and students helped to present and distribute fruits and vegetables for tasting at no charge. Nutrition information was also available. In support of the farmer’s market, the family and consumer sciences classes conducted a recipe contest that required contestants to create healthful recipes for snacks and breakfast foods. The food service department then prepared the winning recipes and offered them as part of the National School Lunch Program. Local chefs visited the school and prepared their specialties for the students to taste.

Contact Information

Contact Person:  Barb Nissel
Contact Person’s Title:  Food Service Supervisor
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 889–2100

Objective

  • Expand the culinary horizons of the high school students.
  • Engage high school students in creating recipes for healthful snacks and breakfast foods.
  • Introduce the high school students to local chefs.
  • Aid students in learning about fruits and vegetables that are available on local restaurant menus.
  • Provide nutrition education in a unique way and provide healthier foods to students to improve their diets.

Category

Nutrition Services

Advice

  • Involve students in the distribution of the foods to be tasted.
  • Encourage student participation by having them create recipes for the food service department to prepare and serve.
  • Try to obtain a grant to support the purchase of taste–testing foods.
  • Be sure to advertise before taste–testing events.

Evidence of Success

  • The students have inquired when the taste testing is going to start this year.
  • A local corporation asked us to reapply for their grant. (The grant has been awarded, and we restarted the market in January 09.)
  • Local restaurants have off ered their assistance again this year (2009).
  • The family and consumer sciences teacher is including the recipe contest as part of her curriculum this year.

 

Bald Eagle Area Junior/Senior High School

Description

We work through local growers to acquire produce that is higher quality and less expensive than can be obtained commercially. When ordering apples, we order ten cases at a time and ask for a variety of eating apples of the orchard’s choice. Along with the standard Red Delicious (which we ask to be a limited percentage of the total), we get many varieties including Honeycrisp, Winesap, Gala, Macintosh, etc. The case price this year was $18 for the entire year, for all varieties, compared to a commercial price that fluctuated between $20 and $36/case.

To get our apples, we worked with the grower to make it easy for both of us and to not put an undue burden on the farmers. One of our elementary schools is located about four miles over a mountain from the orchard. The orchard delivers the apples to that school and from there they are picked up by the district’s delivery/mail van and brought to the high school for distribution to the other schools as needed.

Potatoes are available from a local potato farmer who cleans and bags them for sale to grocery stores. We contacted the farm and found that they would be happy to deliver 50 pound bags of potatoes to us as needed. Instead of instant mashed potatoes, we make the real thing in all schools. We also use them for oven–fries and parsley potatoes. With all of the prepared foods now in use, the labor was already available to take the extra time to make something good from something local. We pay $15/bag. Current commercial price is $18.30/bag.

We have also registered as a “PA Preferred” school district and use signage from that program to identify local items on our service lines.

Contact Information

Contact Person:  Mark Ott
Contact Person’s Title:  Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 355–8068

Objective

To utilize locally grown foods in all district schools whenever possible.

Category

Nutrition Services

Advice

It is good to realize that farmers are busy, much as we are in school foodservice. It is important to be
flexible. Questions to consider:

  • Find out the extent of their supply. Can it get you through the year? What will you do when they run out?
  • What packaging do they use? (We hesitate to buy produce that is not packed the way we would get it from a commercial supplier, though we are not averse to doing so if the product is clean and packed consistently.)
  • How will it get to your schools?
  • Does the supplier have a minimum purchase required for delivery, and if so, can you accommodate the amount required for a delivery?
  • How much lead time do you need to give the farmer for a desired delivery date? (They cannot always deliver the next day, but often our deliveries do arrive the next day.)
  • Is the product cleaned, or will extensive cleaning on site be necessary?
  • What happens if you get a poor quality product or spoilage? What is the return policy? Be fair: is it the farmer’s fault or yours? Are you ordering too much and storing too long, or did it arrive with spoilage?
  • What is the price and how long will that price remain in effect?
  • Are you going to require a contract, insurance, etc.? (We do not. The farmers are reputable and already sell their products commercially both on and off the farms.)

To make our orders worth the farmers’ time and delivery cost, we plan our menus to include the product at all schools during the same week. When we order potatoes, we get 12 bags (600 pounds) per order. This is better for the farmers than asking them to deliver two bags a week. For the volume of our order, we are recognized as a large and local customer, and as the length of the relationship grows, so does the trust and respect.

Evidence of Success

With 1,946 students in the district, our apple usage prior to going local was about one or two cases/ week. Locally, we get crisper apples with a wide variety of taste profiles. Our usage jumped from five or six cases a week to triple that and remains steady all year. The quality speaks for itself.

As for potatoes, I know few, if any, people who prefer instant to real. Although we wash the potatoes again before use, we do not peel them. It took about two meals with the new real mashed potatoes before they took off. Many students were wary of skin–on or “dirty” mashed potatoes. I explained to anyone who asked about it that much of the fiber, minerals, and vitamins are in the skin, and I would not deprive them of that benefit.

About a week after we decided to use local real potatoes we received an e–mail that all the instant mashed potatoes we wanted would be available free through commodity channels for the remainder of the school year. We decided to stick to the locals anyway, and we have not looked back.

We use about 200-250 pounds of potatoes in the junior/senior high school each time they are on the menu. That works out to about 800 servings to 975 students which is a testament to the success of the product. They are on the menu between one and three times a month. It is a lot of work to cut them into chunks, but several cooks get together and make fairly quick work of it. We also managed to get a large food processor through a grant. This enabled us to get a large–dice potato very quickly, and we now use that for the mashed potatoes. The parsley and oven–fried are still cut by hand for a larger chunk size. Real potatoes are good, and our students know it, and they show it through their consumption levels.

 

 

Kindergarteners and Parents Enjoy Farm Field Trips and Locally Grown Snacks: School District of Philadelphia, Norristown School District, Reading School District

Description

Kindergarten Initiative
Four main components:

  • Nutrition and agriculture education — Teachers are trained and given resources to teach a yearlong program that is integrated into their regular curricula.
  • Locally grown snacks are provided two times per week to all students.
  • Two to three times per year students and their parents participate in trips to a farm to develop a relationship with the farmer and to learn about the source of food.
  • Programs for parents are held at least every other month. Activities include cooking in the classroom, distribution of parent newsletters, and a monthly kindergarten farm store (which allows parents to purchase locally grown produce directly from their children’s classrooms).

The Food Trust piloted this program five years ago in four schools in Philadelphia. Today there are 56 schools across the state of Pennsylvania (37 in the Philadelphia area) doing the program through the Healthy Farms Healthy Schools funding.

We were concerned with the wellness of small children and local farms. Through research we know that children do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and these habits contribute to diet–related diseases as well as malnourishment. Research shows that children should learn about and develop healthy habits early in life when they are developing food preferences. We hope to add a physical education aspect to the program by January 2009.

Contact Information

Contact Person:  Bonnie Hallam
Contact Person’s Title:  Associate Director of Early Childhood Initiatives
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 389–3595

Objective

Help kindergarten children make healthy food choices and teach them about the origins of the foods they eat.

Category

Health Education

Advice

The most challenging aspect is putting together the locally grown snack infrastructure. Farmers, a caterer, and a distribution system are necessary. Think this through before starting your program.

Evidence of Success

This program has become sustainable through funding by the PA Department of Agriculture, Healthy Farms Healthy Schools Act that was signed into law in 2006. We have published a tool kit for schools that are interested in doing the program. A formal evaluation of the program has been done with Temple University. There is a full report at www.thefoodtrust.org

 

 

School Gardens Program: Bucks County Youth Center

Description

This year we hope to start our plants indoors and then transfer them to our outside gardens. Residents who are not allowed outside of the facility will be able to care for the plants during the inside phase. Then other residents will move the seedlings to the outside gardens.

We are also going to add herbs to our dining room planters so we can utilize them year–round. Our outside gardens presently consist of a variety of herbs and vegetables. Our food service staff freeze–dries the herbs and vegetables for year–round enjoyment. We will enlarge our gardens this year to allow for an increase in vegetables. We will add a pumpkin and gourd patch, along with watermelons, honeydews and cantaloupes. We also hope to start some fruit trees, and, if there is enough time, we may add a corn field. If we can secure the necessary resources and funds for a hot house, we also plan to grow crops year–round. Advice The program has been rewarding to both residents and staff, but it takes a lot of resources and volunteers to continue the success.

Contact Information

Contact Person:  Jacqueline Froehlich
Contact Person’s Title:  Deputy Director of Operations
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 340–8302

Objective

  • To use our school’s gardens as a therapeutic tool.
  • To develop rapport with the residents.
  • To teach skills that will help residents transition into society.
  • To teach nutrition to the residents and aid them in selecting healthful foods.
  • To instill confidence and pride in the residents.

Category

Health Education

Evidence of Success

  • Improvements in residents’ behavior, life skills, and self–esteem.
  • Decreased food costs during summer months
  • Improved food quality Improved variety of foods

 

 

Student Garden Project: Kistler Elementary School, Wilkes-Barre Area School District

Description

  • There are seven raised beds in an outdoor garden. Each grade (K-6) is responsible for an individual bed. The students choose what they want to grow and then start that item in the classroom as a seedling.
  • Lessons are incorporated in the project (e.g. math, general science, ecology, biology) whenever possible as the students monitor plant growth, light exposure, water consumption, etc.
  • As soon as possible the seedlings are transported to the garden beds. The lessons continue and expand to include studying insect life, soil content, rainfall, etc.
  • Some plants will be monitored and harvested in the fall (e.g. cabbage, pumpkins) while other items (e.g. radishes, lettuce) are harvested before school is out for the summer. Herbs are used by the neighboring high school’s family and consumer sciences teacher.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Deborah Higgins
Contact Person’s Title: Public/Community Relations Coordinator
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 820-3713

Objective

  • To integrate a school garden with PSSA standards for agriculture, environment, and ecology
  • To introduce K-6 students to concepts such as sustainability, local farm-to-table food production, and nutrition education, while encouraging physical education.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Before beginning a garden project it is best to ensure adequate funding. This requires creating a comprehensive action plan to present to benefactors, who are more likely to fund a project if they believe its goals and objectives are clearly defined.

Evidence of Success

Our schoolyard garden project is a work in progress which is growing and adapting as the students and teachers become more involved. Currently, the greatest evidence of success is the enthusiasm that the students have for the project. They love spending time in the garden, finding insects, learning about the different kinds of plants, and measuring growth. They are eager to talk about the effects of weather conditions on growing patterns, and sharing their newfound knowledge.

 

Using a School Garden to Teach Special Needs Children | Pine Richland High School

Description

Special Education students learn best when engaged in hands-on learning. The school garden is a perfect venue for this. It is safe, all students can participate, and they can see the results of their work. The garden builds confidence, and the students can use their experiences to learn about math, science, reading, and arts.

Students grow spinach, lettuce, kale and tomatoes in the school garden. This produce is used for the school’s salad bar. The students weigh the produce, determine its market value, prepare invoices, and keep a balance sheet.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Mark Schweers
Contact Person’s Title:  Special Education Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 625-5286

Objective

  • To use a school garden to teach special needs students life skills
  • To incorporate the school curriculum into the gardening activities

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Incorporate the lessons learned in the garden into the school curriculum.

Evidence of Success

Along with helping students learn academic skills, the most remarkable impact has been on the students with severe autism. The gardening program has helped these students learn to follow directions, communicate, and work as a team. The program gives students with severe autism an opportunity to make a contribution to the enterprise and to help it grow by doing daily greenhouse and garden chores.

 

Planting Winter Vegetables: Avon Grove Charter School

Description

The Avon Charter School originally had difficulties with their school garden because they planted a lot of crops which required attention throughout the summer, when students and other stakeholders were often out of town. This problem was largely solved by planting items which are seasonal to the winter (potatoes, Brussels’ sprouts, carrots, etc.) and items which can be grown indoors.  The gardening which is done is incorporated into the school’s curriculum.

Contact Information

Contact Person:  Kevin Brady
Contact Person’s Title:  Superintendent
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (484) 667-5002 ext:315

Objective

  • To integrate a school garden with PSSA standards by using the garden to teach about science and the environment.
  • To utilize produce from the school garden for school meals

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Use the garden with special needs students. They seem to especially benefit from lessons learned in the garden.
  • Seek the cooperation of parents, members of the community, and as many stakeholders as possible.
  • The garden can be used with pre-primary students by using it to teach mathematical concepts.

Evidence of Success

Students have responded favorably to the garden and they are enthusiastic about contributing to its success. Special needs students, especially those who are easily bored benefit tremendously and are better able to concentrate when in the garden.

 

Teaching Nutrition Education with School Gardening: Valley Forge Middle School

Description

The Valley Forge Middle School has an organic school garden and students may sign up for an after-school club called “Healthy Kids in the Kitchen.” About 25 students do so each year and learn about gardening, cooking, and nutrition.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Sheri DeMaris
Contact Person’s Title: Guidance Counselor
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 240-1325

Objective

  • To teach fifth and sixth grade students gardening, nutrition, and cooking

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Promote the club via the school TV station, announcements, and signage.
  • The cost can be offset by selling items such as aprons, cookbooks, etc.
  • Search for healthy cooking and gardening grants and donations for seeds, etc.
  • Club members can be school advocates for healthy change (e.g. with competitive foods, by having taste tests, and suggesting new menu items).

Evidence of Success

The club has been a success and students are eager to share their knowledge with their parents. At the end of the school year there is a nice picnic/party celebration and students attend with their families.

 

"Growing Our Future” Program Includes School Gardens and Farm Tours: Owen J. Roberts School District

Description

This program was piloted in one school, East Vincent Elementary School (EVE), beginning with an outdoor educational garden. The pilot program at EVE expanded to nutrition education and guided discovery that supports Pennsylvania Standards for Kindergarten Education. EVE Kindergarten teachers received a grant to provide whole food snacks (foods that are grown). Students learn about “healthy choices” in a variety of ways. The program has now expanded through the PA Department of Agriculture Healthy Farms, Healthy Schools Grant to include all district kindergarten students in five elementary schools.

Individual kindergarten classrooms use indoor and outdoor gardens, nutrition lessons, cooking demonstrations, food tastings, farm visits, farmer talks, and a culminating hands–on Farm Day to integrate farm, food, and health relationships into the curriculum. Topics include family–school–community partnerships; health, safety, and physical education; reading, writing, speaking, and listening; science and technology; and environment and ecology. Big books and other resources help teachers coordinate lessons. “Growing Vegetable Soup,” “Eating the Alphabet,” and “Diary of a Worm” are among the books used.

Kindergarten students cultivate fresh vegetables, and they taste foods they may not have otherwise tried. A local farmer visits each school to plant pea sprouts that the students harvest and eat. Lessons focus on whole food snacks as much as possible. Owen J. Roberts kindergarten students experience local foods in many ways, and they are encouraged to make intelligent food choices. They focus on five behavioral outcomes:

  • Eat a variety of foods;
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables and grains;
  • Eat locally produced foods more often;
  • Become comfortable with basic food preparation and safety; and
  • Be physically active.

Kindergarten teachers use fun and behavior–focused nutrition education strategies to increase acceptance and preference for healthful and local foods. Educational trips for parents and students to local farms include the Milky Way Farm. Maysie’s Farm and Conservation Center also supports the program. Kindergarten Farm Day, a hands–on educational field trip in May that is planned and provided by high school agriculture students, provides:

  • Opportunities for students to apply what they have learned about the grain chain;
  • An opportunity to become “farmer for a day” and take products to market;
  • Hands–on exposure to farm animals, local foods and butter–making; and
  • An interactive concert.

Contact Information

Contact Person:  Jo-an Rechtin
Contact Person’s Title:  Wellness Coordinator
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 469–5697

Objective

The program strives to:

  • Increase the student and parent connection to food sources through growing and harvesting of foods in educational outdoor gardens and through visits to working farms;
  • Increase the consumption of nutritious food by teaching children and parents how to make better food choices;
  • Increase student and parent awareness and value of locally grown food and enlist the support of parents to help increase children’s consumption of fresh local products;
  • Support Pennsylvania’s agricultural landscape and economy by teaching students and parents agricultural and natural resource stewardship, by offering access to local foods, and by teaching how to cook with local foods; and
  • Build community and sense of place in the community through various opportunities to meet local farmers and chefs; and
  • Increase children’s consumption of fresh local products through participation in a community Farm Market event.

Category

Health Education

Advice

  • Food allergies present challenges with experimental food programs. We work to be as inclusive as possible, but not every child can participate in every activity.
  • It is expensive to provide healthful snacks — at least one dollar per day per student. Delivery fees compound the expense.
  • It is ambitious to provide this program district–wide in 16 classrooms and 5 schools. The program could not succeed without volunteers and a dedicated grant manager.
  • It is a concern that students are not motivated to continue the habits they adopt in kindergarten.
  • Our next step is to introduce a nutrition program, “There is a Rainbow on My Plate,” to district second graders.

Evidence of Success

  • At first, teachers were extremely cautious to adopt the program due to so many demands and priorities that already seem overwhelming. After one year, the results, including parent/student feedback, were so positive that every teacher embraced the program. Many teachers noted behavior changes in their students when provided with healthful snacks.
  • The kindergartners are easily motivated to learn how to be healthy.
  • Students react to food offerings in the classroom differently than they may at home. They look forward to trying new things.
  • Students ask their caretakers to provide the healthful snacks they sample in the classroom. Many families would never have tried hummus, carrot cookies, or even vegetable soup. Parents ask for and use the recipes used in school.

 

Using Gardening to Teach: Begin With Us Preschool

Description

Begin With Us preschool uses their school garden to teach lessons in math and nutrition education. The produce is used to make items such as salsa and the students have been visited by local farmers to teach them about the origin of their food. Students collaborated with their parents to produce a cookbook.

Contact Information

Contact Person:  Kristie Watt
Contact Person’s Title:  Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 941-0606

Objective

  • To use a school garden to teach nutrition education and basic math

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

Contact the Penn State Master Gardeners for help.

Evidence of Success

Students are very enthusiastic about the garden and have retained knowledge gained from lessons taught there.

 

 

Creating a School Garden: Union City Area School District

Description

Union City Area School District had two community days to construct school garden beds and plant produce, build a birdhouse community, butterfly garden, and seating area. Participants included Girl Scout troops, teachers, cafeteria employees, administrators, students and their families. Families have volunteered to “adopt” the garden for one week in the summer. They will weed, water, and do general maintenance until the school year begins.

Contact Information

Contact Person:  Krista Byler
Contact Person’s Title:  Foodservice Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 438-7673 ext:5466

Objective

  • To create a school garden which will be tended by students
  • To use garden produce in the school meals
  • To use the garden to teach nutrition education

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

The key is organization and enthusiasm. Reach out to local agencies, businesses, and to students’ families to make the garden a community event.

Evidence of Success

Although the garden is in its early stages the level of participation has been high and the students are eager to see the changes taking place in the garden over the summer.

 

 

Colonial School District Joins Chefs Move to Schools: Colonial School District

Description

In May 2010 the Colonial School District broke ground for their school garden. Support was provided by students, community members, school board members, and district staff. The garden consists of tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, poblano peppers, various herbs, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and more. The produce has been used in school cafeteria menus.

 

Colonial School District is participating in the Chefs Move to Schools initiative (http://www.letsmove.gov/chefs-step-1.php). A local chef, using produce from the school garden, has created new menu items for the students to sample. The most popular items are recreated by the food service staff. A favorite is a spicy Asian turkey burger which is made with lettuce and scallions from the school garden. Additionally, a cooking show is being shot in the school with the chef and will air on the district’s local cable channel. This series will feature nutritious, easy to prepare recipes which are family friendly. The idea is to not only serve nutritious meals in school but to encourage and make it easy for families to offer nutritious food at home as well.

 

Contact Information

Contact Person:  Lori McCoy
Contact Person’s Title:  Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number:  (610) 824-1670 ext. 8205
Contact Person’s FAX Number: (610) 834-7535

Objective

Student health will improve because of increased consumption of nutritious locally grown school foods.

Category

Farm to school

Advice

  • Show your enthusiasm for the project, collaborate with other departments to help make your vision a reality, and incessantly promote the program.
  • By promoting the program you will be able to enlist the aid of community volunteers who will be happy to assist with planting and maintenance of the garden.
  • Consider the Chefs Move to Schools initiative and reach out to local chefs. Don’t expect them to come to you.

Evidence of Success

  • Positive feedback about the fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Keen interest in the cooking show

 

Partnering With Local Non-Profit Groups to Maintain School Gardens: Owen J. Roberts School District

Description

Every school that features a garden faces the problem of summer maintenance. In order to ensure the sustainability of their school gardens, Owen J. Roberts School District has formed mutually beneficial partnerships with local non-profit groups.

North Coventry Elementary School has partnered with the Triskeles Foundation’s Food For Thought Program (http://triskeles.org/index.php?page=food-for-thought). Teens work the gardens in the summer and learn skills such as gardening, cooking, and taking food to market.

West Vincent Elementary School and the Owen J. Roberts Middle School have partnered with the Chester County Food Bank (http://chestercountyfoodbank.org/). The schools have 12 raised bed gardens that help to feed the hungry in their school district. The Food Bank contributed technical assistance, guidance, low-cost soil and wood. In exchange, the school has pledged that sixty percent of the garden’s produce will go to the North Coventry Food Pantry (http://www.northcoventry.us/webspages/foodpantry.html), which was never able to offer fresh, whole foods for distribution prior to this partnership. The Food Pantry appointed a Volunteer Garden Coordinator to help volunteer garden workers tend, harvest, bag, and distribute the food from the school garden. The remaining food is used for nutrition education. The garden offers students lessons in mathematics, science, family and consumer sciences, and special projects for disabled and autistic students.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jo-an Rechtin
Contact Person’s Title: Wellness and Communications Coordinator
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 469-5697
Contact Person’s FAX Number: (610) 469-0403

Objective

  • The school garden will be maintained year-round.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Reach out to local politicians, churches, service organizations, and food cupboards.
  • Grow food which can be stored for long periods.

Evidence of Success

  • The North Country Gardens (16 beds) have produced plenty of food for school, program, and gleaning purposes.
  • When the students return in the fall there are strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and onions.

 

 

Incorporating School Gardens into the Elementary Curriculum: Owen J. Roberts School District

Description

A school garden provides many opportunities to support the school curriculum. Utilizing a garden in the curriculum adds value to the Farm to School program in the eyes of the community, school board, and staff. Additionally, these opportunities tend to be hands-on, and especially well-suited to all children, including those with disabilities. Our district has incorporated PDE nutrition guidelines into the science curriculum in grades K-3. The gardens serve as an outdoor resource and as a source of using food as a teaching tool.

Kindergarten students plant pumpkins in the spring to be harvested by the next kindergarten class in the fall. Then, the new kindergarten students bake the pumpkins and make Pumpkin Soup. They read the story Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper, which provides a lesson on cooperation. They scoop the baked pumpkin flesh and wash and save the seeds and each student decorates a seed packet. They use measuring and counting skills to make the soup, and they learn about the nutrients provided by pumpkins. They investigate the Food Pyramid and decide where the pumpkin fits. The children also read a book by Elizabeth King called The Pumpkin Patch, which educates them on the seed-to-plant growing cycle.

Prior to this exercise most of these children have only known the pumpkin as the source of the Jack-O-Lantern.

The children delight in tasting the pumpkin soup, and they take the recipe home. They speculate whether parents and siblings will like it by using their predicting skills.

Finally, in late spring, the kindergarten children get back the seed packets which they decorated in the Fall. They pull weeds, till the soil, and plant their seeds to grow pumpkins for the new kindergarteners to learn the same lessons they learned from the pumpkin patch.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jo-an Rechtin
Contact Person’s Title: Wellness and Communications Coordinator
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number:  (610) 469-5697
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (610) 469-0403

Objectives

  • Through garden-related activities, kindergarten students will learn lessons in Math, Science and Technology, Family and Consumer Science, Environment and Ecology, Health/Nutrition, and Community Outreach and Cooperation
  • Students will classify foods according to their senses.
  • Students will explain the difference between living and non-living things and classify seeds as living.
  • Students will explain where people get their food.
  • Students will state the importance of eating a varied diet.
  • Students will tell why we need to take care of the earth.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Include parents in the projects.
  • Anticipate that some children will want to grow the pumpkins for themselves. They appreciate hearing about the worth of planting seeds for others.
  • Make sure the parents get a copy of the recipe in advance. Parents whose children have food allergies will appreciate this.
  • Make sure to have the children help with clean up at every phase.
  • Use suitable portion sizes for tasting (i.e. one to two ounces is plenty).

Evidence of Success

  • Students have proven to be change-makers for their families. Some parents report that they had never tried pumpkin soup until their children recommended it.
  • Surveys indicate that nearly 70% of parents report that their children requested they make a food which they tried in kindergarten.

 

Taste-Testing Enhances Nutrition Curriculum: Vida Charter School

Description

Vida’s 23 third and fourth grade students studied the Food is Elementary nutrition curriculum written by Antonia Demas. During the first half of the school year the students learned about groups of foods and the nutrients they provide. They sampled a variety of foods including apples from a local farm, vegetarian sushi made with cucumbers and carrots, pasta primavera, tortillas with guacamole and fresh salsa, and West African fufu (a thick paste usually made by boiling starchy root vegetables in water) with spinach. Throughout the second half of the year the students prepared and sampled whole food, plant-based meals that focused on ethnic diversity. Produce from local farms was used whenever possible.

The kindergarten, first and second grade students (63 students in all) also received mini-nutrition lessons along similar themes.

All students were given recipes in English and Spanish to take home, and they were encouraged to share what they had learned with their friends and families.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Dr. April Yetsko
Contact Person’s Title: CEO
Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number:  (717) 334-3643
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (717) 334-8906

Objectives

  • Students will prepare and sample recipes that include fresh local foods.
  • The students will become aware of the variety of ways to achieve a nutritious diet.
  • Students will recognize the healthful aspects of recipes that represent the ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity of the school’s population.
  • Students will share their new nutrition information with friends and family.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Although every recipe will not be universally loved, students should be encouraged to at least sample each recipe. Then they can make informed decisions about whether or not they like the foods they’ve studied and prepared.
  • Preparing and eating food in school is a great time to teach etiquette. Students can learn social skills related to eating in public, including how to react when they do not like something they’ve tasted.
  • Be prepared for a lot of clean-up work, and plan to request additional help while food preparation and taste-testing activities are being conducted. Vida enlisted the aid of seven volunteers for this. These people visited the school weekly or semi-weekly to assist with these processes.

Evidence of Success

  • The students and teachers enjoyed preparing and then eating the types of foods they learned about in each lesson.
  • Students tasted and discussed the foods that they prepared.
  • Surveys showed that the students enjoyed these experiences and that they learned new food preparation skills.

 

Utilizing the School Garden as a Learning Lab: Rogers Primary School, Shaler Area SD

Description

Rogers Primary School’s garden has been carefully planned so that lessons which were previously taught in the classroom can now be presented in a new and natural environment. Students are learning about their eco-system and how it relates to the food supply. They are gaining hands-on experiences with composting, sustainable agriculture, how food is grown, and the processes that are involved in bringing food to the table.

In addition to these science-oriented lessons, the garden provides an environment for learning mathematics, reading, nutrition, art, Social studies, music, and physical education. The garden area consists of the following:

  • A greenhouse which allows the students to grow flowers and vegetables.
  • Trails with various types of observation areas. These include different types of gardens (e.g. butterfly, herb, vegetable, and flower) and plant identification signs.
  • A teaching area with benches for students and a table which the teacher can use for teaching and lab work.

Contact Information

Contact Person: David Lippert
Contact Person’s Title: Teacher/Project Coordinator
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number:  (412) 492-1200
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (412) 487–0293

Objectives

  • To teach students gardening skills
  • To utilize a garden environment to teach required curricula
  • To unite the school with the local community

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Define exactly what you hope to accomplish with a garden and plan accordingly.
  • Incorporate the teaching of required lessons with garden activities.
  • Allow enough time to promote the project and to enlist help from members of the community. By recruiting and inspiring local community members you can build momentum for the project which can snowball.
  • Apply for grants.
  • Home improvement stores are often willing to provide material, financial, and labor assistance.
  • Community members can donate time, money, seeds, plants, materials, and specialty knowledge.
  • Document the progress of your garden (e.g. take before and after pictures and home movies). This can be used for marketing purposes later.

Evidence of Success

  • The garden is being utilized as planned: to teach math, science, and other subjects from the school’s curriculum.
  • The students enjoy physical activity during garden experiences.
  • Community members became involved in the construction and care of the garden.
  • A Garden Committee is forming in order to ensure the promotion and sustainability of the garden. Each grade will have a student representative on the committee along with other representatives from the school and community.

 

Field Trip to a Farm and a Supplier: Crafton Elementary School, Carlynton SD

Description

After a week of lessons about nutrition and fresh produce, the third grade students of Crafton Elementary School went on a field trip to Soergela Orchard in Wexford PA. During a tour the students learned about the types of fruit and vegetables grown at Soergala Orchard.  They were introduced to equipment used on the farm and how the produce is prepared for distribution. The tour also included discussion of the types of challenges and obstacles that farmers face, such as pests, disease, and the quality of the weather and the soil.

After leaving the farm, the students visited Paragon Food Service in Pittsburgh. Paragon is the produce company that provides the school district’s fruits and vegetables. The students were given a tour of the warehouse and were shown how the produce is kept fresh and cold until it’s delivered to their school.

When the students returned to school after these two tours they were served a snack of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Michelle Weaver
Contact Person’s Title: NSLP Facilitator
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number:  (412) 429-2500 x 1104
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (412) 429-2502

Objectives

  • Students will witness farming procedures involved in local production of fruits and vegetables.
  • Students will witness operations at the produce company that serves as an intermediary between the local farms and their school.
  • Students will appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables through sampling.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Make sure that the students and their parents remember that they should wear older clothing for a farm tour.
  • Because students will be outside some of the time during a trip like this, make sure that they will be prepared for current weather conditions. They might need umbrellas, heavy coats, etc., depending on the weather.

Evidence of Success

  • The students named fruits and vegetables that are grown on the farm.
  • Students discussed the farmer’s dislike of stink bugs.
  • The students described how produce is kept cool from the time it leaves the farm until it arrives at their school.

 

Elementary Students Help Seniors in Their Vegetable Garden: Spring Grove Area High School, Spring Grove ASD

Description

This high school garden project was conducted by seniors enrolled in an honors Environmental Science class. They enlisted the aid of two groups of elementary students; third graders and special needs students. All of the students engaged in email and Skype discussions about garden planning during the fall and winter. Eventually the seniors visited the elementary students, who became known as their “veggie buddies,” to color pictures of vegetables and to explore seed catalogs.

By March the seniors were building four raised beds for the garden and filling them with compost and topsoil. Sowing seeds was a soggy experience with 2011’s record spring rainfall, but each class of veggie buddies twice visited the seniors’ garden to do just that.  Many seeds were washed away, but the students were satisfied they did a good job when they eventually saw plants poking up through the soil.

While school was in session during the spring, the seniors and the elementary students worked together to care for the garden by weeding and watering. Plans for the future of this garden include:

  • Summer watering and weeding by student and parent volunteers, led by the seniors who recently graduated.
  • Summer volunteers will also enjoy the harvest of foods that ripen over the summer.
  • In the fall, extra food from the garden will go to the Family and Consumer Sciences department for use in their kitchens.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Celeste Barnes
Contact Person’s Title: Teacher, Environmental Science
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number:  (717) 255- 4731 x7231
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (717) 255- 0736

Objectives

  • Students will use compost, leaf mulch, heirloom seeds, and no chemicals to create an organic vegetable garden on the school campus.
  • Senior science students will collaborate with students from the nearby elementary school to plan, create, and maintain the garden and to eat the foods they grow.
  • Extra food from the garden will be used in the high school’s Family and Consumer Sciences kitchens.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Start seeds during the winter to get a jump on the growing season.
  • Promote parent involvement, especially with the younger students. Some parents may be able to contribute their knowledge and experience with gardening. Families’ investment in the success of the garden could especially benefit during the summer, when school is out and the garden should be going strong.

Evidence of Success

  • The students are diligently caring for the plants by weeding and watering them regularly.
  • Shared gardening experiences (e.g. getting muddy, losing seeds, pulling weeds) bonded the younger and older students to each other and fostered a common interest in gardening.
  • Volunteers were recruited including members of the Future Farmers club who offered to help with the garden during the summer.

 

Nutrition Education Supported by Farmer Visit to School: Penn Cambria Middle School, Penn Cambria SD

Description

A guest speaker from the local dairy farm visited the fifth grade students in Family and Consumer Science (FCS) classes. This farming representative spoke to the students about the types of plants and animals that can be successfully raised in the local area. It was explained that many factors, such as elevation, soil quality, weather patterns, and amount of investment required can all affect a farmer’s level of “success.” The speaker also outlined the journey of milk from farm to store. There was then an interactive activity during which the students participated in taste testing recipes that featured dairy products from the local farm (pasteurized, packaged products that the dairy sells in their store). Finally, students used online tools to create their own nutrition labels for those recipes. Following this activity the students discussed how each recipe fit into the food pyramid.

To analyze the recipes, students used this web site:
recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

To create nutrition labels for their recipes, students used this web site:
www.shopncook.com/nutritionFactsLabel.html

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jeanette L. Black
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number:  (814) 886-8121
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (814) 886-4809

Objectives

  • Students will name plants and animals that are raised on local farms.
  • Students will state the reasons specific plants and animals are raised in their region.
  • Students will describe the journey of a local agricultural product from production to consumer.
  • Students will determine how locally produced foods fit into a healthy diet by analyzing the nutritional content of recipes that feature those foods.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Dairy farming topics can be addressed year-round. However, to teach students first-hand about fresh local fruits and vegetables, it would be good to schedule this type of activity at a time of year when fruits and vegetables are being planted or harvested.
  • Learning about these topics in FCS class can supplement the curriculum in other subject areas. This district’s K through 5 students study soil, climate, and farm-to-table topics in their science classes. In addition, grade 3 has lessons about the changing technology of agriculture, and grade 4 studies Pennsylvania agriculture.

Evidence of Success

  • Question and answer sessions conducted after the speaker’s visit showed that
    • students were able to identify local agricultural products.
    • students were able to explain why these products are grown in this region.
    • students were able to briefly describe the journey of milk from farm to store.
  • Students were able to create nutrition labels for the recipes that they sampled.

 

Kindergarten Students Tour a Farm: Enfield Elementary School, SD of Springfield Township

Description

In May kindergarten students took a trip to Weaver’s Way, a small local farm. The goal of this trip was to teach students about the cycle of life and the source of some of their fresh fruits and vegetables. The farm tour, which included age-appropriate hands-on activities, supplemented the students’ classroom studies of plants and seasons.

Students visited the farm for an hour and a half. During the tour they were escorted by docents who talked about plant life cycles and led them in farm-related learning experiences. The children decorated cups and planted seeds in them. They also heard a story about earthworms, and then they looked for earthworms in a pile of mulch. This was their favorite activity of the day!

A Foss science kit about trees and other plants is utilized in the classroom when the students study their unit on plants and seeds. Students wrote entries about their Weaver’s Way experiences in the kit’s “science notebook.”

Contact Information

Contact Person: Carol H. Rohrbach
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Curriculum and Staff Development
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 233-6000 x2226
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (215) 233-5815

Objectives

  • Kindergarten students will see where fruits and vegetables come from.
  • Students will be able to cite some of the benefits of eating locally grown foods.
  • Students will be able to discuss how seasons affect the growth cycle.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

Schedule the visit for the early fall, when there should be harvested produce for the students to learn about. These students went in the spring, when most farm crops are just beginning to grow.

Evidence of Success

In classroom discussions after this field trip, the students showed understanding of concepts that were covered at the farm. They were able to talk about

  • the origins of fruits and vegetables,
  • the benefits of growing our own food and buying locally, and
  • how seasons affect the growth cycle

 

Students’ Community Garden Day Cultivates Interest: Propel EAST, Propel School

Description

Propel EAST is a Kindergarten through eighth grade school with a total enrollment of 400. Third graders who were studying plant growth and development planted and maintained a garden at the school. The garden served as a learning environment for the students, who then shared their knowledge with others. This sharing was conducted during a two-hour event in May that they’ve named Community Garden Day, to which the students’ families and the entire community were invited.

Propel’s 30 third and 50 eighth grade students were in charge of planning and conducting this year’s Community Garden Day activities. They were assisted by the third grade classroom teacher, the school’s science coach, and a few other staff members. Propel EAST students also benefitted from the help of four high school students from the Propel Braddock Hills school. Along with their ornithology teacher, these high school students assisted with building “recycled” hummingbird feeders, and that earned credit for them toward a service learning requirement.

In October the students formed committees to plan hands-on Community Garden Day learning centers. These centers allowed them to demonstrate and share what they had learned about gardening. Planning was intense for third grade students, but they did a great job! Center topics included water barrels, composting, seedlings, unconventional garden beds, and hummingbirds. Students distributed seed-starting baskets to families, and each learning center gave tickets for a drawing. Prizes were awarded to two lucky winners who received a compost bin and a water barrel.

To prepare for Community Garden Day, the students studied plant growth and development in their classrooms in addition to planting and tending the school’s garden. The third graders collaborated with members of the PA Resources Council to add composting to the school’s gardening system. This came about as an effort to recycle the school’s daily fruit and vegetable snack waste. The Resources Council also assisted eighth graders with constructing water collection barrels and then using them properly. Both the composting and water collection systems were then featured at Community Garden Day learning stations.

The 2011 Community Garden Day lasted two hours. Well over 130 people attended, including 50 families and a few members of the general community. Fresh fruit and vegetables with hummus dip were provided for attendees through a grant from EarthForce, an organization that partnered with the school to create this sustainable community project.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Kristen Golomb
Contact Person’s Title: Science Coach
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number:
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: 

Objectives

  • Students will practice healthy eating as a result of their school gardening experiences, which include snacking on produce from their garden.
  • Students will learn gardening skills and concepts and then reinforce their learning by teaching community members about gardening.
  • Students will plan and present the Community Garden Day activities.
  • Students’ families will be provided knowledge and some of the supplies to plant a home garden.
  • Students’ abilities in language arts, social studies, math, and science will be enhanced by activities associated with the garden and the Community Garden Day event.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • There should be at least one adult assigned to be in charge of the garden. This is necessary to make sure that all maintenance is performed, especially if volunteers are scarce during the summer break. The person in charge must be willing to put in a lot of extra time.
  • Participating teachers spent a lot of time planning and purchasing materials for Community Garden Day. Staff members also acquired outside funding for garden supplies and Garden Day materials and prizes, and this required considerable amounts of their time.
  • Promote the event well in advance in order to ensure strong community attendance.

Evidence of Success

  • The garden has successfully produced basil, tomatoes, parsley, and lettuce.
  • Students have sampled and enjoyed produce from their garden.
  • Attendance was high at the Community Garden Day event.
  • When teaching others at Community Garden Day stations, students showed a clear understanding of plant growth and development.

 

School Garden Science Project: The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School

Description

This school garden is supervised by the science teacher for third, fourth, and fifth grades. There are 120 students in these science classes, all of whom participate in the garden project. Each class receives two, one-hour science lessons a week, and, weather permitting, half of each of these lessons is working on the garden project, for a total of about one hour a week in the garden per student/science class. Some of the Kindergarten through second grade teachers also have their students contribute to the project by visiting the garden to water the plants.

Seeds were planted inside the classrooms in March. The students dutifully observed and cared for their seedlings’ light and water needs until the second week of May, when the students transplanted the seedlings into raised outdoor beds. This is when they also began to start some plants inside a greenhouse located within their garden area.

The entire garden area includes an eight foot by eleven foot greenhouse plus five raised beds, each of them four feet by five feet.

Although nothing has ripened enough to be eaten as of this writing, the students are expecting to be eating from their very healthy garden before school ends on July 8. With the new school year starting up again on August 25, there will be many opportunities to eat from the garden at the beginning of the new school year, as well. Plans include serving garden produce to the students for their snacks.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Teresa A. Grande
Contact Person’s Title: Teacher
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 721- 0261
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (412) 361-1042

Objectives

  • Students will plant and harvest their own vegetables.
  • Students will learn about healthy eating habits.
  • Students will experience having a garden despite the school’s urban setting.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Research what it takes to create a school garden. Find out how others have organized this type of project: how to keep the students involved and enthusiastic, how to find volunteer help, how to schedule garden work, etc. Find out how to manage a garden in special settings such as this garden’s urban environment.
  • Recruit many volunteers to help with the project. Begin recruitment during the previous school year.
  • One source of volunteer help might be local gardening groups.

Evidence of Success

  • In science class the students are able to discuss how to start and care for a garden.
  • Students know what to do when they are in the garden. They know when and how to plant, weed, feed, water, and harvest the garden plants and produce.
  • Students have become enthusiastic about gardening.
  • The garden plants are large, healthy, and producing food.

 

Elementary Students Become Gardeners: Manheim Elementary School, South Western SD

Description

Second grade students started growing radishes and lettuce in the classroom and tended the plants until it was warm enough in mid-April to transfer them to the garden. It was the responsibility of the students to water and weed the garden plants.

Second graders were involved because their curriculum includes some study of agriculture. Lessons about nutrition, composting, the plant growth cycle, measuring, and cooperation were enhanced by garden-related activities. Fourth graders also helped when they could because they were learning about gardens. The Food Service Director and one teacher were in charge of the garden this year, and only students and school staff participated in its care. Next year they will keep the garden the same size, thirty feet by thirty feet, and try to expand to involve more students and possibly some members of the community. This will lessen the amount of work for each participant.

The second and fourth graders picked the radishes and lettuce when they were ripe and then sampled them in the classroom. Cafeteria staff prepared the remaining harvest as free samples that were offered in the cafeteria, thus encouraging all students in the school to try new, fresh, locally grown foods. Some of the plants from which the vegetables were harvested were displayed in the cafeteria so that students could learn about them, too.

Radishes were offered for several days, and they were promoted via the school-wide announcement system. About half of the students sampled them, and quite a few said that they liked them.

The following were planted later in the spring: marigolds, sunflowers, red beets, tomatoes, basil, cantaloupe, oregano, carrots, and onions. In early June students planted peppers, beans, watermelons, and pumpkins. Plans have been made to plant strawberries when possible.

Summer plans include daily watering by custodial staff, and volunteers will weed, harvest, and clean produce that ripens during their shifts. All of the students’ families received a letter with a request for volunteers to help with the garden over the summer. Another source of summer help will be the staff and students who participate in summer programs at the school. Students who help in the garden during the summer months will be given produce that matures during that time, and they will be encouraged to take it home to their families.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Shawn Harlacher
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food and Nutrition Services
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 632-2500
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (717) 521-2021

Objectives

  • Students will create a garden that will provide nutritious food and learning experiences.
  • Students will experience hands-on planting and caring for a garden.
  • Students will sample a variety of foods from the school garden.

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Students should plant early so the produce can ripen in time for sampling before the end of the school year.
  • When serving food from the garden, include a display of the plants from which it came.
  • If garden care is too time-consuming, try keeping the same size garden for the future, but with more helpers.

Evidence of Success

  • Students are excited about sampling the produce from the garden.
  • The students enjoyed planting, caring for, and harvesting the garden.
  • The kitchen manager enjoyed helping the students prepare the items for distribution.
  • The staff is planning to grow an improved garden next year.

 

Fresh Local Strawberry-Spinach Salad Samples: The School District of Philadelphia

Description

On May 26, 2011, students at four elementary schools participated in “Eat Fresh Here” events. They were offered tasting samples of a strawberry and spinach salad during all lunch periods. The same taste test was also conducted the next day at three area high schools. The recipe for the salad was given to all students to take home.

These events were conducted by the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), Division of Food Services, along with community partners including Fair Food Philly, The Food Trust, Philadelphia Urban Food and Fitness Alliance, and Common Market, a local aggregator/distributor that works with over 100 farmers in the Delaware Valley.

Spinach and strawberries were chosen for the taste test because of the height of their flavor and freshness in the spring. They were presented together with the expectation that many students would taste the salad because of the strawberries, and in the process they would also taste the spinach. The salad was tossed in a simple vinaigrette of salad oil and red wine vinegar.

Katie Berky, Nutrition Educator for Ethel Allen Elementary School, provided teachers at the four elementary schools with classroom nutrition education materials about spinach and strawberries. Students then entered their lunchrooms proudly wearing necklaces with strawberry emblems they had colored themselves. Others showed off the spinach maze they had completed. These fruit and vegetable games also entertained children during the lunch periods as they sampled their salads.

At several schools, nutrition educators spent the day in the cafeteria, engaging students in conversation about what they were eating and what other fruits and vegetables they could try at home. Members of the partner organizations surveyed the students for their opinions of the salad. These conversations also supported nutrition education by providing opportunities for the adults to encourage the students to taste their salads.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Lisa Jones
Contact Person’s Title: Manager of Operations
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 400-5564
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (215) 400-4361

Objectives

  • Promote healthy eating
  • Students will sample fresh local produce
  • Items will be simple and easy to prepare at home

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • Consider the age and taste preferences of the students and offer items which are likely to be well-received. Based on survey results, if this salad were to be served again it might be even better received if baby spinach were used, as the more mature spinach was too bitter and fibrous for many students.
  • A creamier, Ranch-style dressing could also be tried, as some students perceived the vinaigrette dressing as too sour.
  • Serve perishable fruit such as strawberries as soon as possible to avoid having them sit in storage for an extended time.
  • Use colorful marketing materials to capture students’ attention.
  • Partner with your school’s wellness council or committee for help with surveying the students and promoting the event.

Evidence of Success

  • Participation was high. 699 students said they enjoyed the salad, and 635 said they would eat it again. 580 students said that this is the first time they had ever eaten a strawberry-spinach salad.
  • Many students returned for second and sometimes even third helpings.
  • Student comments were positive and included statements such as “I was wrong—it was good!” and “I would eat a hundred million of these!”

 

The Farm to School Project, Nutritional Development Services, Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Description

Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese was contacted by a representative from Red Tomato, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit brokerage operation that helps family farmers find markets. Red Tomato wanted to find out if there were opportunities for farmers to sell their produce to the Archdiocese’s many school food service programs. Patrick Temple-West, founding director of the Nutritional Development Services (NDS), and former board member of the Food Trust, led the initiative for the Farm to School project of the Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese, and Joan Reitz, the Purchasing Manager at NDS, agreed to try this new approach. Although she admits to being skeptical at first, Joan has been pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the partnership and plans to continue to purchase local items as long as her standards for quality and price are met.

In 2004, as part of this Farm to School project, NDS began to purchase seasonal fruits – primarily apples, but also pears, peaches, and nectarines – from Beekman Orchards, a large local grower. Presently, NDS purchases seasonal fruits from another local supplier, Bear Mountain Orchards, in Aspers, PA. The farmer, John Lott, delivers the fruit directly to the warehouse just like any other supplier. NDS accounts for seasonal availability by simply listing “fresh fruit” on the printed menus. Generally, peaches and nectarines are offered in the late summer, and apples are served in the fall. To promote nutrition education, NDS periodically hands out information sheets to students about the foods they eat. Nutrition information sheets have been made for varieties of apples and peaches. It is hoped that after students learn the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, they will share this information with their families, so they are encouraged to take the info sheets home.

The cost of the produce was originally an issue; however, Bear Mountain Orchards has been able to provide fruit at a competitive market rate without outside funding for the program. Additionally, the partnership with Bear Mountain Orchards has fit into the conventional purchasing and provision system and has not required additional labor or purchase of kitchen infrastructure. With no extra funding required and support from NDS, this program is sustainable.

The Archdiocese serves about 18,000 meals per day, including breakfast and lunch, at 150 Catholic and charter schools in the Philadelphia area. During the summer, these numbers grow to 36,000 meals as NDS also administers many summer meal programs at schools, churches, and community centers.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Anne Ayella
Contact Person’s Title: Assistant Director, Community Relations
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (267) 262-8901
Contact Person’s Phone FAX: (215) 895-0830

Objectives

  • Local fruits will be incorporated into meals provided by the Archdiocese.
  • Nutrition education will be promoted in schools.
  • Students will share nutrition information with their families.

Category

  • Nutrition Services

Advice

  • Farmers must consistently supply fruit that complies with USDA standards of uniformity and size. It is important to be clear about this from the start of a Farm to School Program. One of the advantages of working with Bear Mountain Orchards is that Lott has been accommodating in this regard, and fruit sizes are uniform.
  • Schools should work with a supplier whose produce packaging will make the transitions from farm to warehouse to kitchen to plate as simple as possible.
  • Students are not always familiar with all of the fruits served, but their participation will increase with taste testing. Students are often surprised at how much they enjoy new fruits.
  • It is important to select fruit that has a long enough shelf storage life such as apples, pears, etc.

Evidence of Success

  • Consistent, positive feedback from lunch managers, principals, and teachers stating that students are more willing to try new fruits.
  • Teachers have noticed a decline in students bringing sweets to school for birthdays or other special occasions; many now bring fruit cups to share.
  • Afterschool cooking clubs have begun to try more nutritious recipes.

 

Serving Locally-Grown and Organic Lunches: The Kimberton Waldorf School

Description

(Please note: the Kimberton Waldorf School is not an NSLP sponsor.)

The foodservice program at the Kimberton Waldorf School serves only locally-grown and organic lunches for the children and adults in the school’s community. The majority of the fresh vegetables and fruits served are from the school’s own garden. Students manage compost and then harvest and wash produce from their garden. The school is also constantly seeking out other fresh, local foods. Menu components including biodynamic yogurt, cream, milk, and organic whole-wheat bread and pizza dough are acquired from local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and local farms.

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade eat in their classrooms, and those in grades 6 through 12 are served lunch in a family-style environment. The tables are dressed with beautiful handmade tablecloths adorned with seasonal flowers. The menu includes traditional favorites as well as many ethnic dishes from around the world. Many items are vegetarian or vegan.

 

The Kimberton Waldorf School produces extra food each day, which is distributed to those in need (e.g. pregnant women, the unemployed, etc.). In addition, the school leases land to a local CSA, and 45 students from the public school district learn gardening skills by working in the garden and growing their own crops.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Karen Flores
 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 933-3635 x129

Objectives

  • To provide the highest quality, nutritionally dense school lunches possible in a relaxing environment
  • To serve as many locally-grown and organic items possible
  • To have a positive effect on the local community

Category

  • Farm to school

Advice

  • If you are considering donating or selling food, check with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture or your local Health Department about requirements relating to these practices.
  • Serve foods that are palatable to children.
  • Names are important. Give the dish a name that kids will accept/enjoy.
  • Incorporate taste-testing and nutrition education, including in the cafeteria.
  • Make changes gradually. For example, start with an item that kids already love, such as pizza, and improve upon it incrementally. (Kimberton uses whole wheat dough made from scratch by the CSA with which they extensively collaborate. Sauce is also made from scratch and incorporates a variety of vegetables. Toppings always include vegetables.)

Evidence of Success

  • Currently, 80% of the menu ingredients used at the Kimberton Waldorf School are locally-grown.
  • The school collaborates with four local CSAs, and local growers plan their crops with the needs of the school in mind.
  • The school foodservice program is self-sustaining, and participation is nearly 70%.