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.

Kid-Friendly Strawberry Salsa Recipe

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Strawberries are a versatile fruit- they make a great snack or dessert, but can also pair nicely with salty foods or meats to balance savory flavors with a touch of sweetness! Try this easy 5-ingredient salsa at your next cookout- either on top of some grilled chicken, or as a dip for chips!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, finely diced
  • Half of a small red onion, peeled and finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2/3 cup finely-chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
  • Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons
  • (Pinch of salt and black pepper)

DIRECTIONS:

Toss all ingredients together until combined.  Season with extra salt and pepper if needed. If you would like a sweeter salsa, feel free to stir in a few teaspoons of warmed honey.

Recipe From: Gimme Some Oven

 

Health Benefits of Strawberries

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It is no coincidence that our students love strawberries!  This year, we have been fortunate to expose our students to locally grown berries from Wegmeyer’s Farm right here in Loudoun!

Here are some fun facts about strawberries!

  • One cup of strawberries provides more than 100% of the recommend daily allowance of vitamin C for adults as well as roughly 3 grams of fiber.
  • Vitamin C is an important antioxidant with many functions. It protects our cells from damage caused by free radicals, helps with wound healing, and assists with the body’s absorption of iron.
  • Fiber, particularly soluble fiber (which is the type found in strawberries) also has many beneficial functions. It can help lower our “bad” LDL cholesterol, regulate digestion and reduce our risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Strawberries are a great source of Manganese as well, providing about 30% of the daily value in a one-cup serving.
  • Manganese helps the body utilize key nutrients, helps to maintain strong bones and healthy nerves, assists in synthesizing fatty acids and cholesterol, and maintains normal blood sugar levels- preventing energy spikes and crashes.
  • Strawberry season is in full swing, which is why all students in Loudoun County were able to try strawberries for free at their Taste It Thursday and Fear Factor Friday events in May!

This blog was written by Virginia Tech Dietetic Interns

 

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.

Explore Loudoun County Farms This Weekend During the Spring Farm Tour!!

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 2016 Spring Farm Tour
 
 Saturday, May 21 & Sunday, May 22  
10 a.m.- 4 p.m. 
Come out and enjoy the animals, people and products of Loudoun County’s agricultural lands.  This is a wonderful way for children to learn not only where their food comes from but how it grows!  Make sure you have them bring their farmer trading cards to the farms for possible farmer autographs!!

The farm tour is free and self-guided, no tickets required!*

Look for tour brochures of participating locations at local libraries, Visit Loudoun, or request one here.
You may also access tour information online via:
Loudoun County Spring Farm Tour is a part of the 5th Annual Small Business Week slated for May 16-22, 2016. 
*The six Special Venues listings in the brochure are not on the map, and each may have different open hours/days or admission fees. Please review prior to visiting.

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School Nutrition In October: Month In Review

SNS harvested kale and herbs from Catoctin ES school garden and let them sample locally grown squash and peppers during lunch.

SNS harvested kale and herbs from Catoctin ES school garden and let them sample locally grown squash and peppers during lunch.

Students were able to try locally grown vegetables during lunch.

Students were able to try locally grown vegetables during lunch.

October was an exciting month in school nutrition.  It kicked off with Virginia Farm to School Week where many of our schools harvested items from their school gardens, had local farmers come into the classroom to discuss what they do, and Catoctin Elementary even had a mobile dairy farm stop by for a visit!  Events continued for the remainder of October to celebrate National Farm to School month.

Just one of the delicious meals offered to our students each day!

Just one of the delicious meals offered to our students each day!

National School Lunch Week was also in October and students were encouraged to share their snapshot of their favorite school lunches.

This Newton Lee student was excited about school lunch!

This Newton Lee student was excited about school lunch!

At Newton-Lee Elementary, students were able to step into our selfie photo booth to take some pictures after lunch.  Many of our parent organizations were supportive during this week and provided many of our schools with prizes for various promotional events.

Elementary students were eager to try a new seasonal veggie.

Elementary students were eager to try a new seasonal veggie.

We love to see teachers encouraging students to try new veggies!

We love to see teachers encouraging students to try new veggies!

October was also the launch of our year-long promotional event to encourage all students to try a new seasonal fruit or vegetable during lunch.  Elementary students embarked on a global adventure for their Taste It Thursday promotion, while middle and high school students are testing their fears on Fear Factor Friday.  The first event was a success, with many students enjoying the parsnips that we prepared for them to try!