PCSD Nutrition Services awarded $58,000 in grants for farm to school programs
September 30, 2019
Over the summer, Parma City School District’s Nutrition Services Department received two grants to further promote healthy choices and farm to school initiatives.
In July, PCSD was awarded a $47,638 United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, Farm to School Planning Grant, and Pleasant Valley Elementary School was awarded a $10,950 grant through the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation.
“I am so excited about this,” expressed Bob Gorman, PCSD’s Supervisor of Nutrition Services. “When you expose students to fresh, locally-sourced foods, they are more likely to try and like the item because they taste better.”
The grant from the USDA will be used to plan and build healthy farm to school programming throughout the district, in collaboration with Career and Technical Education and Special Education programs.
Gorman said this money will be used for fruit and veggie bars at each school and planning the farm to school vision. This vision could include school gardens or hydroponics and aquaponics systems at buildings as well as how to get students and staff involved.
In the future, PCSD’s Nutrition Services Department hopes to apply for another USDA grant to implement this vision of farm to school programming in the district.
In partnership with Spice Field Kitchen and PCSD's Nutrition Services Department, Pleasant Valley will be using their one-year Martha Jennings grant to create school garden curriculum aligned to Ohio’s Educational Standards. Students will learn about food, culture, health and the environment.
The school will be growing their own fruits and vegetables in their school garden, with the help of Spice Field Kitchen’s Steve Baker and his staff.
“Steve is a licensed educator and master gardener, so he will be doing a lot of the nutrition education,” Gorman described. “There will also be a mobile kitchen brought out to the school where Spice’s Chef Bebenroth will teach kids how to prepare some of the items that are being grown in the garden.”
For this year, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) first grade classes at Pleasant Valley will participate in the hands-on learning component, but all the students will be able to enjoy the fresh produce grown on site.
Fruit and veggie bars have already been added to the cafeteria and will feature healthy fruits and vegetables from Pleasant Valley’s garden and other local food supplies.
“Students will be able to eat the beets, kale and leafy greens that they will be growing in their garden from their new fruit and veggie bars,” Gorman shared. “It’s all about improving child nutrition, teaching kids where their food comes from and getting kids to make healthy choices. There is a direct line between nutrition and education.”
This is a community effort, he added, with many people from the district, school and community making it possible.