Legislator in the Lunchroom: Congressman Dave Trott visits Waterford School District Farm to School Program

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Waterford student and garden volunteer “Farmer John” shares a sneek peek of heirloom bi-color corn growing in the Waterford Edible Schoolyard with Representative Trott. Also pictured top left: Waterford student Grace Scigaj, taught Congressman Trott about the district’s worm composting project.  Photo Credit: Doreen Simonds.

 

Waterford, MI – On August 21st, students, staff, farmers, and volunteers gathered with Congressman Dave Trott for a tour of the Farm to School program at the Waterford School District. They sampled fresh veggies and fruit prepared by the Crary Campus kitchen staff, and toured the Edible Schoolyard garden and learning space.

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Staff and students alike get excited about fresh, local veggies in the year-round salad bar at the Waterford School District. Photo Credit: Lindsey J. Scalera.

 

Representative Trott had the opportunity to speak with and hear from a number of people involved in the farm to school initiative. Local farmer Mike Yancho Sr. of Trim Pines Farm talked about about the economic impact of farm to school on his business:

“When farmers market sales start to go down in the fall, farm to school sales are picking up again because school is back in session. It makes a big difference to be able to continue selling fresh produce during the most productive part of Michigan’s growing season.”

Cafeteria Manager Deb Maas talked about the positive changes she has seen as the school has integrated more fresh food into the school meals. Five students ranging from elementary to high school shared their knowledge of food systems, gardening, and environmental science in the Waterford Edible Schoolyard.

Farmer Trevor Johnson of the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital Greenhouse and Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist at the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems were also in attendance to share how their programs support local farm to institution initiatives, linking them to issues of health and nutrition that affect people nationwide.

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Photo Credit: Lindsey J. Scalera

 

The Waterford School District is a recipient of the USDA Farm to School Grant, which allowed them to expand initial local food purchasing and garden-based education projects into a district-wide program. Along with support from state and local organizations like the Michigan Farm to Institution Network, Michigan State University Extension – Oakland County, and the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital Greenhouse, students throughout the district have the opportunity to not only eat fresh, local food, but also to learn about how it grows.

In addition to exciting educational field trips and local food on the menu at every school cafeteria, Waterford students have the benefit of participating school garden programs. Garden Manager Danna Scigaj added that school garden is an integral part of the project as a whole:

“Design, installation, management, and maintenance of a working garden offers the foundation of  academic and experiential opportunities to round out a robust wheel that includes nutrition education and healthy food sourcing in the school lunch program.”

For more information on the Waterford Public School Edible Schoolyard Project and Farm to School initiative, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/waterfordedibleschoolyard or contact Rhonda Lessel (248) 706-4867.

Farm to school efforts are on the rise and right now we have the opportunity to take action to support them!

As the Waterford community clearly demonstrates – Farm to school is a win-win for kids, farmers, and communities!

That’s why we’re so excited that the bipartisan team of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) introduced the Farm to School Act of 2015!

The Farm to School Act of 2015, with support from more members of Congress, will become part of the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization package later this year.

What exactly is in the bill?

Lots of improvements to help farm to school expand nationwide! We need help from YOU to make sure the Farm to School Act makes it into the Child Nutrition Act this fall! YOU CAN HELP! Let’s tell everyone in Congress that they should sign on to this bipartisan bill!

Here are two ways to help out:

The National Farm to School Network and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition have more information about farm to school here: http://sustainableagriculture.net/take-action/

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