Putting School Nutrition in the Spotlight at the 1st Annual Regional Garden Summit

Written By: Stefanie Dove, RDN, School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator

On October 14th, 2017, DC Greens hosted the first annual Regional School Garden Summit at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary in Washington, D.C. The goal of the Summit was to nurture the emerging regional network of nonprofits, schools, and government agencies interested in capacity and network building around school gardens by providing a space to learn, share best practices and make new connections. The day consisted of panel discussions covering topics such as innovative school garden program models, sustaining school gardens through public policy and advocacy, growing networks, and collaborative efforts to connect gardens and the cafeteria.

Stefanie Dove, RDN, School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator for Loudoun County Schools Department of School Nutrition, sat on the panel to discuss the ways LCPS utilizes school gardens as educational tools to connect the concepts to school meals. LCPS Cafe also provided copies of their School Garden Toolkit in the gift bags for all attendees. Mark Pankau, Physical Education Teacher at Guilford Elementary, sat on a panel to discuss the importance of growing school garden networks.

In the afternoon, all 75 attendees were provided a lunch that was prepared using ingredients from the school garden. After lunch, attendees were shuttled onto buses where they spent the afternoon touring several school gardens across the district. The summit ended with an evening of networking with other school garden advocates in the region.

For more information on the school garden program in Loudoun County, please contact Stefanie Dove at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org.

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Guilford Elementary Set Begin Garden to Cafeteria Program

In the spring of 2017 Guilford Elementary was honored to receive a $1,500 grant from the Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF), to install six raised grade level garden beds as part of Health and Wellness PBL project at Guilford. The purpose is to integrate nutrition lessons through planting and harvesting of grade level crops. Guilford has also been named one of the LCPS schools for the new School Garden to Cafeteria pilot program through the School Nutrition Office. The project has ties to all grade levels and is facilitated by Mark Pankau, Health and Physical Educator for Guilford.

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Project Based Learning is the second phase on all Loudoun County Public School campuses following the One to the World (OTTW) projects of last school year. The driving question that our students will be investigating will be, “How will growing our own food help us make decisions for our future?”.

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Guilford has already made great progress in our PBL and OTTW integration across grade levels and disciplines with specialists supporting grade levels as exhibited in our wellness and physical education in the areas of nutrition for third grade, exploring the different Virginia Regions through physical activity and supporting planting and growth with the KinderGARDEN projects. These are examples, like the grade level garden beds and highlights how school Specialists can support classroom core curriculum while making meaningful connections for children.
In July Mr. Pankau was contacted by the Loudoun Health Office with information on the Virginia Food Access Network Day of Action on September 29th. The VFAN goals are to raise awareness of organizations working to increase food access to improve nutrition and end hunger. A second goal is to encourage the promotion of food access by facilitating volunteer opportunities.
The Garden to Cafeteria project will provide students hands on skills, while supporting the needs of the Loudoun community. The grade level gardens ribbon cutting on September 29th, will be the kickoff event to the LCPS pilot school program and the VFAN Day of Action.

For more information please contact Mark Pankau at mpankau@lcps.org or Stefanie Dove, RDN at stefanie.dove@lcps.org

School Nutrition Connects Nutrition and Project-Based Learning for Secondary Teachers

School Nutrition Helps Teachers Connect Nutrition with Project-Based Learning
for a day of nutrition education and farm to school training

Ashburn, VA: Last month, School Nutrition Services collaborated with Virginia Cooperative Extension of Loudoun County, Giant Food and Virginia Family Nutrition Program to provide a full day of training to nineteen Loudoun County Middle and High School teachers. The training included topics on general nutrition, food science, plant science and farm to school. This training demonstrated how these subject areas could easily be applied to project-based learning initiatives while meeting SOL standards. Those who attended were able to engage in hands-on learning activities including cooking and food preparation demonstrations, soil lab experiments and recommendations on how teachers can connect students with community partners to achieve measurable learning outcomes. A follow-up survey from the training reported that 82% of attendees felt well equipped to incorporate school garden and nutrition education activities into their lesson plans while 84% plan to implement these lesson ideas during the 2017-2018 school year.

Jennifer Gardner, AP Biology teacher at Loudoun Valley High School, stated, “I really enjoyed the training and it gave me some great ideas to take back to my students.” Renae Sterling, Marketing teacher and DECA advisor at Briar Woods High School, has already started collaborating with School Nutrition to plan for her Advanced Marketing classes. Natalie Kannan, RD and In-Store Nutritionist for Giant Food stated, “This training served as a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of nutritious fruits and veggies, in a way that our youth can easily connect with and implement at home. From math to science, in the classroom, these activities allow for introductions to new fruits and vegetables, as well as basic cooking skills, all while reinforcing the subject matter being taught.” Carly Griffith, Associate Extension Agent was pleased to see the training incorporating 4-H curricula. “Being able to incorporate 4-H nutrition programs into our school system will help insure that our message of “pledging my health to better living” reaches youth of all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles.” Snap-Ed Agent, Van Do, summarized the day with “the experience was truly enjoyable for both facilitators and participants and was a great example of a good community partnership.”

As part of the USDA Farm to School Planning Grant received by School Nutrition, all teachers who attended the training will receive the following at the beginning of the upcoming school year:
• Complete sets of the 4-H curricula used for the training
• School Nutrition will also randomly select eight participating schools to receive their choice of a composting tumbler or raised garden bed to enhance farm to school experiences for students.
• Through a partnership with the Loudoun County Health Department, all attendees will receive a hydroponic garden tower for their classrooms or designated area in their school.

For more information about School Nutrition Services or our community partners, visit www.lcpshealthycafe.org or contact Stefanie Dove at (571) 252-6502.

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Cedar Lane and Sugarland Receive Grants for School Gardens

Last month, Cedar Lane Elementary and Sugarland Elementary were the recipients of grants to help support their school garden efforts.  These grants were made possible by the Northern Virginia Dietetic Association (NVAND).  Each school received $100 from the organization.

These schools were selected from 12 applicants in the Northern Virginia region.  Each school submitted a detailed application where they had to describe the educational purpose and goals of their gardens while also discussing the impact and outcomes their garden had on the students and community.  Each application was ranked and voted on by board members of NVAND.

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NVAND President, Teresa Lucas and Sugarland Garden Coordinator, Darielle Timothy

Sugarland uses their school garden to help students learn the role they play in both the community and as health ambassadors.  The garden coordinators help students understand that growing nutritious foods can be done regardless of ones income level.  They focus on inquiry-based learning and real world problem solving so that students can understand how gardens directly relate to their lives; such as the garden to cafeteria initiative.  They develop consistent schedules for the garden so that each grade has responsibilities relating to the project.

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NVAND President Teresa Lucas and the Cedar Lane staff

 

Cedar Lane currently uses their garden to help their Autism classes learn curricular skills as well as career and working behaviors through garden-based activities.  They able to grow a variety of produce items which helps students become exposed to new foods.  Students learn the importance of following directions and reading recipes, conversational skills and money counting.  The Cafeteria Manager at Cedar Lane assists students with garden-based recipes and taste tests.  Cedar Lane also uses the harvest from their garden to host annual farmer’s markets at the school.  This allows the students to understand the background of having a business.

For more information on the farm to school program or school garden information in Loudoun County, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org or visit www.lcpshealthycafe.org

Frederick Douglas Students Take A Journey Through The Garden With School Nutrition

fde kinderWhat started out as a rainy day turned into one of sunshine for kindergartners at Frederick Douglas Elementary School as they partook in a special food and nutrition lesson on April 20th. Each student participated in a sensory activity where they used their senses to guess which vegetable was in the mystery bag. As little detectives, the kindergartners described how the vegetable felt, whether it was large, small, hard, soft, or fuzzy and guessed which vegetable it could be. They journeyed through the life cycle of a vegetable plant; starting with a seed, growing to a sprout, and ending with a vegetable. But the journey wasn’t complete without tasting the fruit of gardening.

LCPS Nutrition Intern lesson

The kindergarten classes assembled vegetable boats out of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow bell peppers, watermelon radishes, and hummus. They loved playing with their food and tasting it too! One of the most common reactions was how they thought a pepper would be spicy, but they were surprised to find the bell peppers are sweet! Other students mentioned how they loved dipping their veggies in hummus for some extra flavor.

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Overall, the cucumber was the crowd favorite, however, the students were open to trying all the vegetables. This supports what current research is stating. Research shows that when children are in  direct exposure of fruits and vegetables it is associated with an increased intake of fruits and vegetables and an increased confidence in trying new ones. This is one of the reasons that over half Loudoun County Public Schools have school gardens. LCPS uses their school gardens as an educational and agricultural resource for their students to become more familiar with fruits and vegetable, to be more willing to eat them, and to teach healthy lifestyle behaviors.

 

For more information on the Farm to School program in Loudoun County or to schedule a nutrition education lesson at your school, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN and School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator (Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org).

Loudoun All-Stars to Sign Cards for School Kids

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Loudoun County’s award-winning farmer trading cards are back by popular demand. For the second year, Loudoun elementary school children will receive baseball-style trading cards on Tuesday, April 4th. The cards feature Loudoun County farmers, several of whom will make special appearances at Loudoun elementary schools to autograph cards:

  • Alex Bates, If It Flies Farm – Lucketts Elementary;
  • Sara Brown, Oakland Green Farm – Emerick Elementary in Purcellville;
  • Julie Borneman, Watermark Woods – Waterford Elementary;
  • Adrienne Green, Independence Homestead – Evergreen Mill Elementary in Leesburg;
  • Warren Howell, Allder School Berries – Lovettsville Elementary;
  • John Moore, Temple Hall Farm Park – Frederick Douglass Elementary in Leesburg;
  • Mary Ellen Taylor, Endless Summer Harvest – Balls Bluff Elementary in Leesburg.

“It’s great to have children look up to these successful business owners, who not only contribute to Loudoun’s economy, but also help feed the community,” said Loudoun Economic Development’s Executive Director Buddy Rizer.

“Last year’s farmers were treated like all-stars when they visited the schools,” said Loudoun’s Agricultural Development Officer Kellie Hinkle. “The cards generated so much excitement that local, regional and national media ran stories about them. School systems in other states contacted us to talk about producing trading cards of their own.”

Loudoun Economic Development partners with Loudoun County Public Schools on the cards.

“Our goal is to promote healthy eating, as well as to educate children about the importance of farming and where their food comes from,” said Dr. Becky Domokos-Bays, director of School Nutrition.

The other farmers featured on this year’s cards are Anna and Daniel Cohen of Bay Haven Farm, and John and Joel McClintic of Thousand Hills Farm. Entrepreneurs interested in starting or expanding a farm business in Loudoun can contact Kellie Hinkle by calling 1-(800)-LOUDOUN.

For more information on this promotion or details on the School Nutrition Program in Loudoun County, please contact Stefanie Dove at (571) 252-6502.