School Nutrition Helps Guilford Elementary Introduce PBL Unit

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

Last week, School Nutrition worked with the third-grade students at Guilford Elementary to kick off their year-long PBL project. The driving question for this unit is “how can we as young chefs, make healthy choices at school and at home?” Stefanie Dove, RDN and Marketing Coordinator, has collaborated with the teachers at Guilford to guide students with this project through a variety of activities from fruit and vegetable taste tests, recipe writing and development, cooking, and menu planning.

The introduce this project, Willowsford Farm and School Nutrition Services donated produce for all third-grade students, teachers and their parents to sample a variety of seasonal produce. The taste party included: broccoli, purple cabbage, radishes, spinach, carrots, apples, pears, roasted squash and beets. All students tried the items together while discussing the importance of trying new foods and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to fuel their bodies with essential vitamins and minerals. At the end of the taste party, 10 students were randomly selected to take bags of produce home with them so that they could encourage their families to try new foods as well.

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For more information on this Project-Based Learning (PBL) project or to collaborate on a project or nutrition education activity, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org

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School Nutrition Gears Up to Celebrate National School Breakfast Week

Getting More Students to Begin their Day with Breakfast
“Take the School Breakfast Challenge” Encourages Loudoun County Families to Choose Breakfast at School

Ashburn, VA –February 23, 2017 – Busy weekday mornings make it a challenge for families to find time for a healthy breakfast. However, US Department of Agriculture data show that more students are starting their day with a nutritious breakfast in their school cafeterias. To encourage more families to take advantage of the healthy choices available with school breakfast, Loudoun County Public Schools will recognize National School Breakfast Week during March 6-10, 2017.

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Cedar Lane Elementary students enjoying breakfast

The National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) campaign theme, “School Breakfast Challenge”, reminds the entire school community that school breakfast provides a healthy, energizing start to the day for students. Students will be encouraged to “Take the Challenge” from March 6-10 with special menus, decorations, cafeteria events, and more. Many schools will be offering special prizes and giveaways all week. Cedar Lane Elementary will be promoting the newest school breakfast trend: egg pops on Tuesday, March 7th. Harmony Middle School is celebrating all week long, offering free breakfasts to all students on select days. They will also have a #LCPSBreakfast selfie booth where they can take pictures while enjoying breakfast and students can cast their school breakfast votes with a customized ballot. Lovettesville Elementary will host special breakfast guests all week long, including the mayor. At Smart’s Mill Middle School, the new Breakfast After the Bell program launched in January, which now allows students a second chance to get school breakfast after the bell rings. Students will see special breakfast items featured on the menu during this week, including the launch of our new fruit and yogurt smoothie program.

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Students at Cedar Lane ES decorated breakfast bags to promote healthy eating

“A healthy breakfast at the start of the day is one way to ensure students are getting the best education they can,” said Dr. Becky Bays, Director of School Nutrition. “National School Breakfast Week helps us educate parents and students about all the healthy and appealing choices we offer”. The district serves over 5,104 breakfast meals daily through the federally funded School Breakfast Program. Over 350 school nutrition professionals in Loudoun prepare breakfast and lunches every day that meet federal nutrition standards – limiting fat, calories and sodium – and encourage students to choose from the fruits, vegetables and whole grains offered with school meals.

Students can select from healthy breakfast options daily with everything from cereal, breakfast sandwiches, open faced breakfast toast, yogurt smoothies, freshly baked cinnamon rolls, whole grain banana bread, and a variety of breakfast bars. Breakfast also includes a fresh milk, fresh fruit, and 100% juice. Students receive all of this for $2.10. If a student qualifies for free or reduced lunches, breakfast will also be at no cost.

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Principal Waldman at Smart’s Mill Middle School with the new Breakfast After the Bell cart.

National School Breakfast Week was launched in 1989 to raise awareness of the availability of the School Breakfast Program to all children and to promote the links between eating a good breakfast, academic achievement and healthy lifestyles. The “Take the School Breakfast Challenge” is made possible by the nonprofit School Nutrition Association, Kellogg’s and Potatoes USA. Parents and students can follow the fun on Facebook.com/TrayTalk.

For more information about schools meals, visit http://www.lcpshealthycafe.org or http://www.schoolnutrition.org/SchoolMeals.

Media contact:
Stefanie Dove
(571) 252-6502
Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org

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School Nutrition Kicks Off One to the World Project at Guilford

Last month, School Nutrition Services partnered with the third grade classes at Guilford Elementary to kick off their One to the World (OTTW) project, “how can we as student chefs be healthy eaters.” Over the next few weeks, students will discuss this topic in depth through a variety of project-based learning assignments that will help them in answering this question.


The students were brought into the cafeteria where they sat down to discuss their new project and participate in an “eating the rainbow” nutrition education lesson that was conducted by Stefanie Dove, Registered Dietitian and School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator with Loudoun County Schools. Students discussed how certain vegetables grow, why the specific colors of fruit and vegetables are beneficial, as well as the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.

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School Nutrition Services Farm to School Coordinator, Jennifer Hein, collaborated with Willowsford Farm, who generously donated over 40 pounds of fresh produce for this taste party. Students were able to try everything from watermelon radishes, purple cabbage, and tricolor carrots to peppers and kale. After the taste test, students then discussed their opinions on the vegetables they tasted while making recommendations for how they could use some of those items in healthy recipes.


The excess produce from the taste party was packaged in the cafeteria at Guilford and distributed to 20 families as part of the Backpack Buddy program. Each bag also contained recipes for the items included in the produce bags so that families were able to prepare those items that were less common.


This taste test was also made possible in part by the USDA Farm to School Planning Grant that Loudoun County School Nutrition Services received earlier this year.
For more information on the Farm to School program or if you are interested in having School Nutrition Services help with a One to the World project in your classroom, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN, CDN by email at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org or by phone at (571) 252-6502.

LCPS Teachers Receive School Garden Training As Part of USDA Farm to School Grant

Twenty-four Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) teachers participated in a school garden training program on Saturday, October 15th, at Willowsford Farm in Ashburn.

The workshop was funded by a USDA Farm to School Planning Grant that was awarded to the LCPS School Nutrition Services Department earlier this year. The workshop was coordinated by Sarah Holoway and Lea Howe of DC Greens.  DC Greens is a non-profit organization that addresses food education, food access and food policy.
“Partnering with our teachers is a natural progression of the work School Nutrition Services does every day to help students learn the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables.  We provide a practical extension of what students learn in school gardens and classrooms,” said LCPS School Nutrition Services Supervisor Dr. Becky Domokos-Bays.
Lola Bloom of D.C. Bilingual Charter School presented an interactive cooking workshop that modeled tips and tricks for cooking with students.  Ibti Vincent and Kealy Rudersdorf of Fresh Farms Food Prints program led an outdoor workshop on how to integrate school gardens into the curriculum to meet Virginia Standards of Learning for every grade level.
“It is rare as teachers that we are given the opportunity to be with such a wide range of professionals; such as chefs, farmers, non-profit groups who provide unique garden-based instruction or cooking,” said Mary Cunningham of Frederick Douglass Elementary. “You learn from each of these individuals and their experiences and are given hands-on experiences that can be taken back to your school to further develop your garden-to-table program. Most importantly, you feel supported, inspired and driven to doing more for this type of instruction.”
LCPS School Nutrition Services supports all school gardens and can provide resources and support to schools wishing to start a garden.  Please contactStefanie.Dove@LCPS.org for more information.

LCPS School Nutrition Launches 1st Annual Farm to School Art Contest

October is FARM TO SCHOOL MONTH! Help Loudoun County School Nutrition Services celebrate the month by participating in our first annual art contest!

CALL FOR ENTRIES: Our 2016 theme is What Farm to School Means to Me. This is a call for art from all LCPS students – send us your artwork showcasing what you think of when you hear “Farm to School.”

This contest is open to all Loudoun County Public School students. Entries will be judged by an esteemed panel on originality, creativity and how well the entry illustrates the theme.

CONTEST RULES

Artists must be enrolled students in grades K-12 at LCPS. Entries must be original, must relate to the theme described above, and must be accompanied by a completed entry form. The deadline for contest submissions is October 30, 2016.

Contest winners will be announced in November.

Please visit the School Nutrition Services website (www.LCPSHealthyCafe.org) for more information or contact Stefanie Dove at Stefanie.Dove@lcps.org.

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School Nutrition Services Wins “One In A Melon Award” for Virginia

One in a Melon BadgeLoudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) School Nutrition Services received a “One in a Melon” Award from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its efforts to bring fresh, local produce to the students eating in school cafeterias each day.

One district per state received the honor. LCPS was selected from among all of the schools in Virginia with similar initiatives.
School Nutrition Services’ farm-to-school efforts date back to 2014 and include two local farms, Kilmer Farms and Wegmeyer Farms. For example, just last week, LCPS students enjoyed fresh strawberries from Wegmeyer Farms. The berries were actually picked the same day they were served in LCPS cafeterias.
In addition to receiving food from local farms, 31 schools also operate school gardens in an effort to produce some of their own food. Educational programs about farming extend to LCPS classrooms as well. The most successful project to date has been Farmer Trading Cards. The trading cards were released on the opening day of baseball season, which is also the first day of growing season. Instead of featuring baseball players, these trading cards profiled 12 Loudoun County farmers. The trading cards were produced in conjunction with the Loudoun Rural Economic Development Commission.
School Nutrition Services Director Becky Domokos-Bays says that future promotions are planned around Virginia Agriculture Week in October and the creation of more of the popular trading cards.

Wegmeyer Farms Donates Over 400 Strawberry Plants to Loudoun County Schools

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Catoctin Elementary students planting the donated berry plants.

Last month, Wegmeyer Farms in Hamilton, Virginia generously donated over 400 plants to 17 schools in the district as a way to enhance their current school gardens and allow School Nutrition Services to help them make connections about their food.  Each school received approximately 30 plants that will mature to fully producing strawberry plants over the next year.  These berries can then be utilized in school meals and classroom education lessons.

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Students are making learning connections with the plants and how they grow.

Wegmeyer Farms has been partnering with school nutrition services this year through the successful farmer trading card series.  In May, some of Loudoun County Schools will see Wegmeyer strawberries on their serving lines for school breakfast and lunch.  Later this month, School Nutrition will be on the strawberry farm to film the first ever, virtual farm field trip that will be accessible to all students on the School Nutrition website.

For more information on Wegmeyer Farms visit their website.

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Catoctin students working with teachers to plant in the school garden.