The Crawford County Farm to School program is just finishing a second successful school year with some significant
accomplishments. Food service directors and staff, teachers and parents expanded the program at the Seneca Wauzeka-Steuben and Prairie du Chien School Districts this year with the help of AmeriCorps members, Kathleen Hein and Marty Green.
The Farm to School program “nourishes kids and communities” by exposing them to fresh, local food through some or all of the following activities: local foods used in cafeteria lunches, a healthy snack program, a “Harvest of the Month” program that allows students to taste local products and fun hands-on classroom lessons with a local farmer or community member, farm field trips and school gardens.
Donna Heilmann, the food service director for the Prairie du Chien school district, says the students eat more fruits and vegetables during lunch since the program began. This is largely due to her healthy snack program in which she serves a fresh snack such as carrots, broccoli, or fruit, to the students at B.A. Kennedy Elementary School twice each week. Students enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables so much that for the last day of school, Donna served fresh local salad greens and strawberries in place of potato chips.
Students in Wauzeka praise Monica Krachey, their food service director, for the creative variety of foods she serves. Monica often incorporates foods featured in the “Harvest of the Month” program into her menus. For example, last October she featured a different local product each week. On Halloween, Monica baked pumpkin soup and served it directly from a hollowed pumpkin.
Seneca started their Farm to School program this past year with Harvests of the Month and a new school garden. Former Seneca graduate, Roger Reynolds, helped the students build a “lasagna” garden that incorporates layers of hay and cardboard. This gardening method cuts down on weeding and watering time during the summer. Next fall, the students will eat fresh vegetables from their garden in school lunches.
The program exposes students to healthy local foods as well as connecting them to the community. For example, radishes were the “Harvest of the Month” in May. Local farmers Carolyn and Brian Austin of Rush Creek Farm outside of Rising Sun, brought radish samples to the children and talked about their farm. That next Saturday at the new Prairie Street Farmers Market in Prairie du Chien, a handful of students brought their parents to buy radishes from the Austins.
The momentum and excitement around the Farm to School program has been substantial. The Crawford County Farm to School program was awarded the “Standing up for Rural Wisconsin” award from the State Superintendent in February. The program was also one of three national Farm to School programs featured at the National Food Corps Summit in Detroit following the National Farm to School Conference in May.
For more information about the Crawford County Farm to School Program, contact Kathleen Hein at firstname.lastname@example.org.