15 LCPS Schools Win Big With School Garden Scholarships

This spring, School Nutrition Services and Loudoun County Health Department (LCHD) teamed up to award 15 schools with scholarships to help develop and sustain their school garden programs. The partnership between LCHD and School Nutrition has been ongoing for the past 3 years. They have supported LCPS school garden initiatives by supplying nearly 150 indoor hydroponic self-watering vertical garden towers, soil, seeds, and garden kits to PK – 12 classrooms in the county. Jennifer Brady, Obesity and Chronic Disease Prevention Educator for LCHD, said “Pairing hands-on gardening education with nutrition education has been shown to increase a child’s likelihood to try new vegetables and this is the outcome we have heard anecdotally from teachers. LCPS kids are enjoying kale after growing it in their garden towers much to the surprise of their parents!”

Dr. Becky Domokos-Bays, Director of School Nutrition, described the school garden program as “an inter-disciplinary approach to nutrition education accomplished by coordinating school gardens, school cafeterias and physical education provides students with authentic, rich experiences that is helping them make nutritious choices is exciting. Students of all ages and abilities are learning life long positive health habits through the this valuable partnership.”

This year, thanks to funding from the Virginia Department of Health, LCHD provided $15,000 in additional supplies to gardens in 15 schools based on the individual needs of each school. Interested teachers completed an evaluation of their gardens and were able to request funding for the specific items they needed to take their school gardens to the next level. This ranged from lumber and rakes for gardens just starting out to more advanced gardening supplies like permaculture materials. School Nutrition Services utilized some of the funds received from their USDA Farm to School Planning Grant to provide additional supplies and tools to the select schools. They will also work with these schools during the upcoming school year to provide hands-on educational opportunities for the students.

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2018 School Garden Scholarship Winners:

Middleburg Charter Academy: $500
Lovettsville Elementary: $500
Mercer Middle : $1,000
Frederick Douglass Elementary: $3,000
Meadowland Elementary: $1,000
Rolling Ridge Elemetary: $1,000
Heritage High: $500
Loudoun Valley High: $500
Sully Elementary: $1,000
Smarts Mill Middle: $1,000
Cedar Lane Elementary: $500
Belmont Station Elementary: $1,000
JM Lunsford Middle: $1,000
Park View High: $1,000
Pinebrook Elementary: $1,500

For more information on school gardens or the farm to school program in LCPS, contact Stefanie Dove, RDN, SNS at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org.

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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 Breakfast Item Spotlight: Fundles

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School Breakfast just got better thanks to our new menu item: Fundles™, individually wrapped stuffed sandwiches designed to make it easier for students to enjoy a hot breakfast item that they can grab and go. Combining a whole grain rich crust with hearty fillings, Fundles™ are both nutritious and appealing to our students.

This year, we offer 2 varieties during breakfast:

Savory Sausage Gravy: Reduced sodium pork sausage gravy stuffed inside a whole grain rich biscuit-style crust.

Fiesta Bean and Cheese: A zesty blend of whole and refried pinto beans, cheese, and red enchilada sauce stuffed inside a whole grain rich, corn masa-infused crust.

Still not convinced?  Ask your cafeteria manager to try a sample during breakfast!!

Fear Factor Friday is back at our Middle and High Schools!

Last month our students got to conquer their fears of vegetables by trying parsnips.  This month, they will get to try cauliflower!!  The next Fear Factor Friday will be held on November 20th.  Fear Factor Friday is available to every student during lunch on the specified day!  Let us know what you think of cauliflower by sharing with us on Instagram or Twitter via @LCPSCafe or using #LCPSLunch!

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