Jamestown Public Schools’ Food Services Department is participating in a “Farm to School” Program where districts purchase fresh fruits and vegetables directly from local farms using child nutrition funds. JPS Food Service workers recently processed corn on the cob from Abers Acres in Kennedy to freeze for use in the school menus during the winter months. JPS also purchases free-range chicken eggs from Green Grass Farm in Ashville.
Other local farms that have shown interest in being in the Farm to School Program include: Hamlet Farms, Busti Cider Mill, Roots & Wings Farm, Erdle Farm, The Lembke Farm, Earth Song Farm, The Vanstrom Dairy and Toboggan Hill Farm.
Across the country, “Farm to School” is increasingly recognized as an effective and integrated approach to addressing several issues simultaneously: child and adolescent health, diet, school meal quality, food & agriculture system awareness and understanding, local agricultural market viability, and food and agriculture system entrepreneurship.
Objectives of Farm to School include:
-Providing healthy, nutritious meals in school cafeterias
-Improving students’ nutrition and food literacy
-Presenting engaging health and nutrition education and;
-Supporting local farms
Ginny Carlberg from the Cornell Cooperative Extension applied for the “Farm to School” Grant. Cornell Cooperative Extension also supplied technical assistance and coordinates the connection between farms and buyers.
Janet Forbes and Kerri Mihalko from the Chautauqua County Health Network donated fruit and vegetable processing equipment for JPS use. They also funded and set-up school vegetable gardens at five JPS schools and provided nutrition and gardening education at JPS. Chautauqua Region “Farm To Table” also sponsors “Farm to Table Mixers” where all stakeholders from farmers to end-users meet to build connections funded through Chautauqua County Health Network.
“Farm to Table Programs provide benefits to the entire community: children, farmers food service staff, parents, and teachers. It also helps support the local economy,” said Walter Gaczewski. “The program directly benefits students by helping to increase participation in the school meal program and consumption of fruits and vegetables.”