A Letter To Our Upper Valley Schools

I hope this note finds you all healthy and adjusting to the routines of remote learning and teaching. I know my family and I are starting to feel a rhythm in our days and finding ourselves to be so grateful to be living in the Upper Valley. I wanted to reach out today with some resources for your schools around school meals and an opportunity to celebrate the amazing work that our school food service professionals are doing.

Friday, May 1 is National School Lunch Hero Day! Our school food service staff, as well as many others, have jumped to the rescue during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide students with delicious, nutritious, and thoughtful meals. This has been no easy task, and one that should be recognized and applauded. Join us in showing gratitude and appreciation to our lunch heroes. Look at the link provided above for creative ideas on how to celebrate them!

Believe it or not summer is just a couple of months away. I urge all our schools to start planning for their summer meal programs now. Unfortunately the USDA has not extended the waiver on the requirement that summer meals be congregant meals nor the waiver on the 50% free/reduced rate threshold to offer summer meals. These waivers are due to expire at the end of the school year. Both New Hampshire and Vermont have requests into the USDA to extend these waivers through the summer. I urge schools to start making plans to continue their feeding programs through the summer. Every day thousands of meals are going out to children across our region. If these meals were to stop, it would be an overwhelming burden on the already stressed food shelves in our region. Please reach out to us if you need assistance around these possible programmatic changes.

I wanted to connect you with some helpful resources from Hunger Free Vermont. One is a School Meal Stakeholder Tipsheet. This tipsheet is great to share with your educators to help them understand the role schools are currently playing and the other food access resources they could be sharing with their families. Hunger Free also has a School Meal Application Flyer that could be shared to encourage families to enroll in school meals and help your schools receive more funding and get you over the 50% mark in case the waivers are not extended. UNH Extension put together a Food Access Map. This is a fantastic tool to pass along to families so they can find food shelves in their area and volunteer opportunities.

We know these are difficult and stressful times. We are here to help. Please reach out and let us know if you need help with making these seasonal program shifts, want to connect to some local suppliers, or just need copies of the linked flyers.

I tip my hat to all of you and the important and courageous work you are doing everyday.

Beth Roy
Food & Farm Program Manager
Farm to School Coordinator

beth@vitalcommunities.org

802-291-9100x 105

Upper Valley Farm to School Forum: Trauma & Nutrition

Event Postponed

We will be rescheduling the forum

to the late spring or next fall

 

Upper Valley Farm to School Forum: Trauma & Nutrition

March 19 4:30-7pm

Sharon Elementary School

75 VT Route 132, Sharon, VT 05065

 

Join the Upper Valley Farm to School Network as we learn how past traumatic experiences experienced by students influence their relationship to food and the school nutrition programs they participate in.

The topic of trauma and nutrition is rich and multifaceted. In this session we will learn about what schools in Southeastern Vermont are doing to help their most vulnerable students be successful in the realm of food and nutrition. Listen to the voices of several VT youth with lived experience of trauma reflect on their experiences with school food, examine food access and universal meals as a method for reducing shame and stigma, and investigate cultural practices within schools that empower students and communities to come together in positive ways around food, such as school gardens and harvest dinners. Participants will leave with resources to support you in bringing concepts from this training back to your school community.

We are also very fortunate to be able to share a meal together during our training that will be prepared by Sharon Elementary’s Junior Iron Chef Team. Registration is free but required so we can make sure to make enough food.

 

 

Celebrate Farm to School Month With Our Fall Farm to School Forum

Meet Your Local Farm to School Network!

The Upper Valley Farm to School Network invites you to gather in your region to build local connections with peers and Farm to School practitioners, and access resources. Find support for your efforts to strengthen the work in your area. The gathering is FREE but please register. Yummy local food will be served!

Wednesday October 30th
4:30-7:00 pm
Willing Hands, 198 Church St, Norwich, VT 05055

Join Vital Communities for other events in our Fall Food & Farm Event Series.

Find other Farm to School fall Gatherings in Vermont.

Apply for a Farm to School Mini-Grant!

We are excited to announce the 2019 mini-grant program from Vital Communities’ Upper Valley Farm to School Network! Funding is available to both Vermont and New Hampshire schools. Start dreaming up your farm-to-school projects—we want to support you!

Application deadline: Friday, March 29, 2019HSS - Green team at market 1

Mini-grants are designed to help your school, afterschool program, or school-related wellness program launch projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption at the school itself.

A broad range of projects have received funding in recent years including field trips to local farms, food from a local farm, materials for gardens and garden activities, and stipends for farmers, teachers, or FTS coordinators. Funds could also be used in the cafeteria to pay for training, supplies, or equipment.

The maximum mini-grant award is $500. Both New Hampshire and Vermont schools are eligible to apply for funds. Recipients in both states are required to present their project at Trek to Taste in Woodstock, Vermont, on June 1, 2019 (in addition to other grant requirements). We encourage schools to include costs related to project presentations and attending Trek to Taste in their grant budget.

For additional information on eligibility, the application process, and possible projects, please see our online application form, download a printable form, or contact Beth (802.291.9100 x105).

Tunbridge - Garden Day TeamworkThe Upper Valley Farm to School mini-grant program is made possible thanks to the Couch Family Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Wellborn Ecology Fund.

Upper Valley Farm to School 2018 Mini-Grants!

I am so excited to announce the 2018 mini-grant program at Upper Valley Farm to School! We have funding focused on both Vermont and New Hampshire schools. Start dreaming up your farm-to-school projects – we want to support you!

 

Application deadline – Wednesday March 28, 2018HSS - Green team at market 1

Mini-grants are designed to help your school, afterschool program, or school-related wellness program launch projects related to farms, our agricultural heritage, farm products, food production, or local food consumption at the school itself.

A broad range of projects have received funding in recent years including field trips to local farms, food from a local farm, materials for gardens and garden activities, and stipends for farmers, teachers, or FTS coordinators. Funds could also be used in the cafeteria, to pay for training, supplies, or equipment.

 NEW FOR 2018: The maximum mini-grant award is now $500. Both New Hampshire and Vermont schools are eligible to apply for funds. Recipients in both states are required to present their project at Trek to Taste on June 2, 2018 (in addition to other grant requirements, below). We encourage schools to include costs related to project presentations and attending Trek to Taste in their grant budget.

For additional information on eligibility, the application process, and possible projects, please go to our on-line application form, download a form or, contact me.

The Upper Valley Farm to School mini-grant program is made possible thanks to the Couch Family Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Wellborn Ecology Fund.

Tunbridge - Garden Day TeamworkBeth Roy
Farm to School Coordinator
Upper Valley Farm to School Network
Beth@VitalCommunities.org
802.291.9100 x105

Farm to School Forum: King Arthur Flour Bake for Good Kids Program

Join Upper Valley Farm to School Network as we learn how to make the dough!

 

 

KAFBFG

King Arthur Flour Bake for Good Kids Program

  • Kids LEARN to make bread from scratch. Math + science + reading + baking know-how = something delicious!
  • Kids BAKE. They practice their new skills and use ingredients we provide to bake bread or rolls.
  • Kids SHARE within the community, and give part of their baked goods to those in need. (They keep some to enjoy!)

How does BFGK Self-Directed Group Baking work? 

  • 5-50 kids, grades 4-12
  • Kids watch BFGK video with you
  • KAF provides flour, yeast, recipe booklets, dough scrapers, video lesson, and more
  • Kids work in teams, bake together with you, and donate rolls

Learn how easy (and fun!) it is to bring our very popular free BFGK Self-Directed Program to YOUR students. We’ll show you how it works, how to access helpful information, and practice some roll shaping skills! Take home BFGK Program materials and enjoy some homemade pizza!

Instructor: Paula Gray, is the Manager of the Bake for Good Kids Program. She has been an educator/presenter for over 30 years, and is an employee owner of the King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, VT

When: Monday October 30, 2017, 5:30-7:00PM

Where: Culinary Learning Center, COOP Food Store, 12 Centerra Parkway, Lebanon, NH 03766

Fee: FREE!

Register: Contact Beth Roy at Beth@VitalCommunities.org or (802)291-9100 x105 or register on-line

Farm to School Professional Development Course Offered in Partnership with Vermont FEED

Pic for webJoin Upper Valley Farm to School and Vermont FEED for a Level I Professional Learning Course: Cultivating Farm to School. This learning opportunity is designed for school educators, staff, administrators, and community members to explore and expand their personal and professional knowledge and experience related to Farm to School education while building and strengthening school community connections. Participants will be encouraged to build and develop shared learning experiences for their students while building and developing the vital relationships necessary to make Farm to School education a real and lasting part of their community, classroom and cafeteria.

Interactive class sessions will include a balance of hands-on cooking, individual work time, networking, guest presentations, dialogue, small group activities and practical experiences that will serve to deepen participant understanding of the various elements and promising practices of farm-to-school programs.

The class will take place at Mascoma Regional High School 4:00-7:00pm

3/21/17
4/4/17
4/25/17
5/9/17
5/23/17
6/6/17

We are very fortunate to be able to provide free tuition to all New Hampshire participants. New Hampshire participants will also be eligible to apply for a mini-grant to support a farm to school project in their school. Funding for this opportunity is from the Wellborn Ecology Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

To learn more about the course and to register please visit http://bit.ly/2kQvAyY or contact Beth Roy, Farm to School Coordinator at 802.291.9100 or Beth@VitalCommunities.org

Enjoying the Fruits of their Labors in Newbury

Newbury Elementary School: “The Newbury Elementary School has beboy in garden dec 16en enjoying the fruits of many labors with the success of our first “Grow-a-Row” program. Throughout the summer, green-thumbed and generous community members tended an extra row or two in their gardens and then sent along the harvest to Chef Paul, our energetic food service director. Instead of piling up produce in the kitchen and walking away, these same folks and others met on certain days to help Paul process and freeze the offerings so that they could be used throughout the school year in our lunch program. It’s such a win-win and the program continues to gain interest and develop. We enjoy wonderful community support here.
We’ve added two new components to our program that helps support the Grow-a-Row program and our commitment to eating more locally: we Newbury Elementarypurchased a large, walk-in freezer and a small greenhouse. The freezer has already been pressed into action holding the processed vegetables we acquired over the summer. The beautiful new greenhouse will be utilized by the students and teachers as we continue to learn together about gardening and botany.
We held our first of the year staff meeting about our Farm to School program. Staff members learned about our plan for the next five years, the resources available to them, and in the process, made a really delicious “massaged kale salad” to enjoy during the meeting. The Farm to School team did a great job informing the rest of the staff about easy ways to build in farm to school lessons and values into the curriculum through project based learning. Students helped “put Newbury Elementarythe gardens to bed”… all except one: our 5/6 team planted a bed of garlic to be used in the kitchen next year. It is now sleeping under this first snow of the year!
We wish all of our Farm to School friends happy holidays and a great start to the new year. The attached photos show our 5/6 grade “Falcons” and “Otters” working in the permaculture garden and harvesting squash in one of the raised beds this fall. The top photo shows Chef Paul addressing our Grow-a-Row community group.” Kim Goody, Farm to School Coordinator

Sharon’s Learning Fair to Focus on Farm to School

Sharon june

Sharon Elementary School: “Our gardens are put to bed, but the cooking and learning continue here at Sharon. The first and second grade classrooms made two school wide snack taste test. The school enjoyed applesauce and roasted butternut squash. The apples came from a local orchard and the butternut squash came from our garden! As a school, the staff met to discuss the future of our farm to school program. We’ve decided to focus our annual learning fair this year on farm to school! Classes will be busy developing what they want to share with the community!” Keenan Haley, Third Grade Teacher

Celebrate National Farm to School Month in October

fts-month-1

Celebrate National Farm to School Month in October

October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate connections happening all over the country between schools and local food!

Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings. Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips.

Over the past decade, the farm to school movement has exploded across the United States, reaching millions of students in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Farm to school is an important tool in the fight against childhood obesity and food insecurity. In addition to improving child health, when schools buy local, they create new markets for local and regional farmers and contribute to vibrant communities, a win-win-win scenario!

The 2016 National Farm to School Month theme, One Small Step, will highlight the simple ways anyone can get informed, get involved and take action to advance farm to school in their own communities and across the country. Join the celebrations by signing the One Small Step pledge and take one small step to support healthy kids, thriving farmers and vibrant communities this October.

Whether you are a food service professional, a farmer, a teacher or a food-loving family, there are plenty of ways to celebrate and get involved in National Farm to School Month! The National Farm to School Network offers a variety of free resources on its website, farmtoschool.org, including posters, stickers and a communications toolkit.

Learn more about National Farm to School Month, how you can get involved, and sign the pledge by visiting farmtoschool.org or vitalcommunities.org

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