EPHRATA – The Ephrata School District is working to bring fresh food and new learning opportunities to students via a closer relationship with small local farms.
Ephrata Schools Food Service director Cindy Witte recently received a Farm to School Month planning grant. Ephrata is one of just eight districts in the country and the only one in the state to receive the $1,000 award.
Witte and her staff will use the money to make plans for the next National Farm to School Month in October 2013. Plans include chef training for school food service staff using farm fresh produce, a “Farm in the School” event on National Food Day and a farm field trip to Cloudview EcoFarms in Ephrata.
Nutrition curriculum and media will enhance learning around these events to help Ephrata students learn about local agriculture and where their food comes from, Witte said. Ephrata schools were reportedly asked to document their planning and Farm to School Month activities with stories and photos that can be shared across the country.
The National Farm to School Network grants are made available through funding from the United Natural Foods Inc., Foundation and in partnership with Food Day organizers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Along with the award, the National Farm to School Network gave kudos to Witte and her planning project team – Cloudview farmer Carli Thompson and Fresh Food in Schools Project coordinator Joan Qazi.
“Your proposal for celebrating Food Day on October 24th and National Farm to School Month 2013 was creative, meaningful and has potential to make lasting change in connecting school children to healthy, locally sourced food,” the grantors stated.
Witte was also recognized “for being an active leader for health” in the Ephrata school community.
The Ephrata School District is one of six regional school districts participating in the Fresh Food in Schools (FFS) project, which aims to develop farm-to-school initiatives into “nutritionally and economically beneficial programs” featuring the wide variety of produce grown in Washington, according to project organizers.