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.

cedar lane garden grant

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

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.

LCPS Nutrition Intern lesson

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).

Salad Science Comes to Algonkian and Selden’s Landing

Salad Science partnered with Second and Third grade students at Algonkian and Selden’s Landing Elementary schools this year. Teachers, Mary Carlson and Carrie Mock, served as the lead teachers at each of these schools to help organize the program. This program is divided into three sections, which is part of the Audubon Naturalist Society’s GreenKids program, enables students to grow their own lettuce while learning about edible parts of a plant, plant life cycles, composting, nutrition education, healthy eating, and general gardening skills.

Each phase contains a project-based learning mini-lesson that aligns with Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that incorporates a hands-on activity. Students did everything from writing journal entries where they recorded observations, made predictions on what would happen in the garden, and enhanced their math skills by charting data about the plants, weather, and precipitation. Classes were responsible for monitoring the garden beds, watering the plants, and tracking the progress of growth.

Students began the program by learning about the edible parts of a plant and planted lettuce seeds. They monitored the plans and thinned the lettuce to discuss and understand how nature recycles plant matter. The Salad Science program ended with students harvesting their lettuces where they participated in a salad party.  Students enjoyed having a taste party with the harvested lettuce along with a rainbow of healthy toppings and dressings.


The Salad Science program not only allows students to become more empowered when it comes to understanding and growing their own food, it also instills the importance of healthy eating and trying new things. This program helps expand the Farm to School efforts by the School Nutrition Department in the district. As of December 2016, Loudoun County currently has 48% of their schools utilizing schools gardens and nutrition education activities in the classroom.

For more information about the Farm to School or School Nutrition Programs in Loudoun County, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org

School Nutrition Announces Farm to School Art Contest Winners


School Nutrition Services kicked off National Farm to School Month in October with their first annual art contest. The theme for the 2016 contest was “What Farm to School Means to Me.” The contest was open to all Loudoun County students’ grades K-12. There were 75 entries in the contest from grades K-8 only. All entries went through a preliminary judging and the top 14 were then submitted for the final judging by an esteemed panel of judges where all student and school identifying information was omitted from the entries.

Grand Prize winner: Parnika S., Mercer Middle School, 8th Grade


Elementary Winners:
Craftsmanship: Abigail K., Madison’s Trust Elementary, 2nd Grade


Visual Impact: Ashley S., Lowes Island Elementary, 4th Grade


Interpretation and Creativity: Ishaan D., Meadowland Elementary, 2nd Grade

Honorable Mention: Katelyn M., Kenneth Culbert Elementary School, 5th Grade


Middle School Winners:
Interpretation & Creativity: Charly B., Trailside Middle School, 6th Grade


Visual Impact: Parnika S., Mercer Middle School, 8th Grade


Craftsmanship: Samah N., Mercer Middle School, 6th Grade


Composition and Design: Zoe L., Eagle Ridge Middle School, 7th Grade

Honorable Mention: Anaghasree H., Stone Hill Middle School, 8th Grade


The grand prize winner will have their artwork featured on Loudoun Farm Tour marketing materials for the spring 2017 season. The individual winners in both elementary and middle school will have their artwork developed into posters that will be displayed in the cafeteria at their individual schools. All participants will receive a certificate of participation in the art contest.
Loudoun County Public Library has also agreed to feature the student entries at various locations. The dates and locations for these exhibits will be announced in January, 2017. The artwork will also be featured on School Nutrition Services website http://www.lcpshealthycafe.org.
The judges for the art contest were:
Dr. Becky Domokos-Bays, RDN, SNS
Supervisor, School Nutrition Services
Loudoun County Public Schools

Kellie Hinkle
Agricultural Development Officer
Loudoun Economic Development

Cassie Walls
Rural Business Development Assistant
Loudoun Economic Development

Chris VanVlack
President of the Board
Loudoun County Farm Bureau

Lorraine Moffa
Library Aide
Loudoun County Public Library

Stephanie Kehoe
Art Teacher
Stone Hill Middle School

If you have any questions or comments regarding this contest, please contact Stefanie Dove by email at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org or by phone at (571)252-6502.

This promotion was made in part by the USDA Farm to School Planning Grant.

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.


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.



The Top School Nutrition Questions Answered

This year school nutrition has spent ample time in the schools working with students, teachers, and parents.  By far, the most common questions relate to what we serve our students at school and why. Here are answers to some of the top questions!

Why is it important to serve nutritious meals at schools?  

Good nutrition is important for kids to perform their best in school. Hungry children display more behavioral problems in school and have lower test scores.  By simply eating a nutritious school meal, children can perform better on exams, have better school attendance, and ultimately be more successful! This is why we offer both school breakfast and lunch daily in all of our schools here in Loudoun County.


Do school lunches follow any nutrition guidelines?

Yes, the school meals we serve today are not the same as what was served even 5 years ago! School nutrition programs across the county follow strict regulations following The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in December 2010 and officially enforced during the 2012-2013 school year. The purpose of the act was to improve the nutritional value of school meals. The new regulations focus on providing a variety of food groups rather than meeting specific nutrient requirements. The concept behind this is that children who eat a variety of whole foods will likely meet their nutrient needs, and by focusing on food groups rather than individual nutrients, fewer fortified processed foods will be served.


The new regulations require:

  • 1 cup of fruit and 1 cup vegetables at each meal.
  • At least one serving of meat or meat substitute (beans, tofu, nuts, cheese, or yogurt) at each meal.
  • Dark green, red/orange, other colored vegetables, and legumes must all be served at least once per week.
  • All grains must be whole grain-rich.
  • Reduce sodium levels in foods by 50% over 10 years.
  • No trans fats and <10% of calories from saturated fat.
  • Only serve 1% or nonfat plain milk or nonfat flavored milk.
  • A max calorie limit for school meals (650 calories for K-5, 700 calories for 6th-8th grade, and 850 calories for 9th-12th grade)

Why can’t we sell cupcakes during the day for our fundraiser anymore?

Getting students to choose healthy foods during the school day is extremely difficult when vending machines stocked with candy and chips are on every corner, or cookies and cupcakes are being sold in the hallway. Foods sold at schools that are not included in the school lunch program are called competitive foods.

The new Smart Snacks in School program went into effect in July 2014 and extended the federal nutritional standards to all foods sold in school including a la carte items, vending machines, school stores, and even school club fundraisers from midnight to 30 minutes after the last bell, and nothing can be sold during school meal times. These new standards require that. foods sold in schools must:

  • Contain no more than 200 calories
  • Be “whole-grain rich” or primarily made of fruits and vegetables containing at least ¼ cup of fruit and vegetables
  • Contain no more than 230 mg of sodium
  • Or contain 10% of the recommended daily value of calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and dietary fiber.
  • Beverages are limited to water, unflavored low fat milk, unflavored or flavored fat free milk and milk alternative, 100% fruit or vegetable juice, and 100% fruit or vegetable juice diluted with water and with no sweeteners.

Do you serve real food for school lunch?

School Nutrition strives to provide our students with a variety of healthy menu selections daily.  We pay close attention to the labels of all items we use and try to bring in products with labels that are as clean as possible.  The protein options we serve such as our 100% beef burgers and chicken drumsticks are free from artificial dyes, flavors, and soy.  We offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily to all of our students.  In the secondary schools this year, we introduced the self-serve fruit and vegetable bars so that students can take the fruit and vegetable portions that they want.

What farm to school efforts are you doing in Loudoun?

School Nutrition is actively involved in the growing farm to school program here in Loudoun.  This year, we launched our fruit and vegetable taste test promotion, called Taste It Thursday in the elementary schools and Fear Factor Friday in the secondary schools.  These promotions allow all students to try a new seasonal fruit or vegetable item, free of charge.  It is available during lunch to both those students who purchase lunch and those who pack.  So far, students have been able to try everything from parsnips and tricolor cauliflower to grapefruit!


In addition to this, school nutrition has worked closely with our school gardens (not working with gardens, but with schools with gardens) to incorporate project based learning activities with school nutrition.  We have hosted garden harvest days and taste parties so that students can make the connections between the food they grow and how it can be used in school meals.  School Nutrition has also partnered with Kilmer’s Farm in Inwood, WV so that some of our schools are able to offer locally grown fruit during school meals.  We hope to grow this partnership as well as increase the number of partnerships with local farms around the region in the future.


Want to know more about our program or how your school garden can partner with school nutrition?  Visit our website or leave a comment below.

Written By: Stefanie Dove, RDN, CDN, School Nutrition Marketing Specialist, Loudoun County Public Schools