This post was written by Hannah Garrad, senior dietetics student. Hannah is working locally with Springfield Public Schools to implement the Farm to School program.
An amazing learning opportunity was presented to me when Springfield Public Schools was awarded the USDA Farm to School grant in February of 2014. According to the USDA, the purpose of this grant is to “assist eligible entities in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods… through efforts that bring local or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias; hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and the integration of food-related education into the regular, standards-based classroom curriculum” (USDA Farm to School Fact Sheet).
As an intern for this project, I have coordinated educational field-trips, taste tests and strengthened relations with community partners. Field trips include a visit to the College of the Ozarks; touring work stations, such as: dairy milking, horticulture, and culinary careers. A significant part of the project required evaluation of student acceptance of fresh fruits and vegetables prepared through a variety of methods during lunch-period taste tests. Elementary students at Jeffries, Robberson and Rountree were able to sample locally grown peaches, sweet corn, cantaloupe, watermelon/cucumber mint salad and several other items over a three week span.
Through this opportunity I have learned a great deal of personal independence that has carried over into other aspects of my future plans. I have really enjoyed learning more about my community and all of the impressive plans for the future of the Ozarks.