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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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 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.

Healthy Valentine’s Day Treats The Kids Will Love

No matter what age you are, we all love to get special Valentine’s Day treats!  While heart shaped candies and boxes filled with chocolate are usually the most popular items, here are a few healthier options to let your family know how much you care, without all of the added sugar and fat.

These Strawberry Heart Fruit Kabobs from Modern Parents Messy Kids are not only a healthy option, but strawberries are full of vitamin C to help keep their immune systems boosted!

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Update their favorite PB&J sandwich by using heart cookie cutters to cut the bread to give it a special touch for the day!

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This colorful fruit and yogurt parfait is not only festive but parfaits are always a school breakfast favorite with our students!  Even better, they are full of calcium to help promote bone growth!

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These heart veggie kabobs make the perfect afternoon snack or a great addition to lunch or dinner!  To add protein, try alternating mozzarella balls between the cucumbers!

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Let the kids help make a special dinner with these ever popular heart calzones!  Let them add their favorite veggies inside for an added nutritional bonus!

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