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"I think that the educational piece as well as the fact that they can actually pick up a skill to take home with them is one of our major successes."

Healthy Food and Garden Therapy Help Residents at the Bucks County Youth Center

A thriving Farm to School program plays an important role in making nutrition top-notch at BCYC, a Residential Child Care Institution. Deputy Director of Operations, Jacqueline Froehlich and Cook and Garden Manager, Val Arocho shared their insights.

Meals prepared at BCYC are made from scratch using as many ingredients as possible from the large school garden or from local farmers. To make meals as nutritious as possible, Arocho and the BCYC staff have begun freezing herbs, which provides a year-round source of seasonings that are used as alternatives to salt and other commercially produced seasonings. In addition to contributing to a well-balanced meal, cooking from scratch and using herbs grown on site helps to keep food costs low

At BCYC, the garden does more than provide nutritious foods. Gardening provides residents with a unique form of therapy. All of the residents at BCYC have committed crimes. They stay there as part of their rehabilitation, and gardening has become a mandatory part of this process at BCYC. “They come in to us with shields on … we do a lot of therapeutic things, and it’s just a matter of getting that shield to come down, and then you start to see that transformation in them; the smiles on their faces and that wellness begins.” said Froehlich.

Froehlich and Arocho readily admit that their program differs greatly from most schools in the state, giving their Farm to School program distinct advantages. For example, BCYC’s rather unique requirement that students participate in garden therapy establishes a year-round gardening work force of twenty students. Similarly, all schools are not eligible for some of the grants that subsidize the costs of BCYC’s meals. However, these innovative professionals encourage their colleagues to explore how a Farm to School program could be integrated into their own schools.

Click on the play button above. Jackie and Val discuss the biggest successes of the Farm to School program at the Bucks County Youth Center.
Think that a Farm to School program will be too expensive? Here, Jackie discusses how BCYC provides fresh, healthy meals that cost approximately 17¢ apiece.
When using ingredients from the school garden, how can you make the most out of what you’ve grown? Jackie and Val offer some tips.
Jackie and Val discuss the benefits they and their students gain from working in the garden.

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