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

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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.

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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).

Aldie Elementary Hosts School Breakfast Sampling Event

Last Friday, Aldie Elementary hosted a free school breakfast sampling event so that students and parents can sample all of the menu items served daily.  With the help of the Aldie Safety Patrol team, students were welcomed in the multipurpose area where there were tables filled with samples waiting for students to try. Over 100 students enjoyed this event to kick off National School Breakfast Week that began on March 6th.

Some of the items students sampled were: sweet potato cinnamon rolls, whole grain cocoa cherry bars, Benefit bars in a variety of flavors, open-faced breakfast toast sandwiches, and the new whole grain, mini pizza bagels.  This event allowed students and parents to get to know more about the breakfast program that is offered across the county as well as providing School Nutrition with valuable feedback on what menu items the students enjoy eating.

This event was organized by the Cafeteria Manager at Aldie Elementary, Kat Ciurzynski and was supported by the administration at Aldie as well as additional staff members from School Nutrition Services. For more information about the breakfast program at LCPS or details about School Nutrition Services, please visit www.lcpshealthycafe.org.

Smart’s Mill Middle Increases Breakfast Participation By 204.9%

Last month, Loudoun County Public Schools launched their first Second Chance Breakfast program at Smart’s Mill Middle School.  The Breakfast After the Bell program helps to increase access to a nutritious breakfast by maximizing convenience and overcoming barriers to participation. These meals are distributed via breakfast carts where students are dismissed from their classrooms to purchase breakfast.  Students simply enter their PIN numbers into the kiosk and grab their breakfast to enjoy it in the classroom.  Since the launch of this program five weeks ago, Smart’s Mill has increased their breakfast participation by 204.9% with an average of 303 students eating breakfast daily. Of that total, an average of 231 students are participating through the Breakfast After the Bell program daily.

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Cafeteria Manager, Kaoutar El Hamdani, ready to serve students for Breakfast After the Bell.

Breakfast after the bell extends the reach of the School Breakfast Program and enables more students to have the nutrients necessary to perform their best in the classroom. This helps to ensure that all students are able to start their academic day with a nutritionally balanced meal. Students can still enjoy the traditional school breakfast that begins before the start of the school day.  This is a good first step to addressing hunger and supporting student achievement, however, school nutrition understands that not all students are ready to fuel up for the day before the first bell rings and students do not always give themselves time to each before rushing to class in the morning.  This is why second chance breakfast is vital for the nutrition of students. By providing mid-morning nourishment, students are refueled until lunch.

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Principal Waldman with the Breakfast After the Bell kiosk at Smart’s Mill.

The Breakfast After the Bell program is extending to Harper Park MS on March 13th with additional schools in the district looking to model this program for the upcoming school year. For more information on the Breakfast After the Bell program or School Nutrition Services, please visit www.LCPSHealthyCafe.org .

LCPS Supervisor of School Nutrition Invited to Provide Input on Dietary Guidelines

Last week, our very own Dr. Becky Domokos-Bays, Supervisor of School Nutrition Services, was invited to provide her input on the new Dietary Guidelines.  Dr. Bays is the current President of the School Nutrition Association and a School Nutrition expert with over 30 years of experience.  You can read her comments below.

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For more information on this please visit www.schoolnutrition.org

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.