March – Increasing Access to Healthy Local Food for Students
Spring is in the air! Here in the Vancouver Area, farmers and teachers alike are bidding an unseasonably snowy winter farewell, and gearing up to prepare garden beds and school menus for a fresh growing season.
Increasing access to healthy, local foods is one of the key goals of Farm to School; growing and harvesting food from farms, fields and forests on and around school grounds can play an important role in the development of healthy school food environments and a sustainable regional food system.
Schools serve local food in a variety of ways:
- Salad bar
- Hot lunch program
- Tasting activity
- Fundraising event
- Community celebration
In the Vancouver Area, schools are incorporating fresh, healthy, local produce in many creative ways!
For example, students in Tupper Secondary School’s ACE IT cooking career program grow their own microgreens and incorporate them into beautiful school lunches:
Another example: David Thompson Secondary School students, along with the Fresh Roots team, run after-school student Carrot Club that makes dishes using locally sourced produce.
This past February, students incorporated local potatoes into their annual and much anticipated Valentine’s day treat: Mashed potato chocolate truffles! Check out the bottom of this blog posting for their famous mashed potato truffle recipe.
Schools also source local food in a variety of ways:
- Direct farmer relationships
- Food distributors
- Schoolyard farms
- Harvesting wild/traditional foods
F2SVA at the Vancouver Winter Farmers Markets
The Farm to School Vancouver Area Hub has partnered with the Vancouver Winter Farmers Market to help schools and community partners source supplementary produce for their F2S programs. Once a month, you’ll find Farm to School and a school or community partner set up a Donation Station at your local Farmers Market, accepting food or monetary donations for their F2S program!
Don’t miss our next Donation Station: We’ll be partnered with Grandview Elementary and accepting donations on March 18 at Nat Bailey Stadium!
Monthly F2SVA Network Meetings
F2SVA monthly online network meetings provide a space for teachers, community partners, students, and other members of the school community to:
- share information
- highlight inspiring F2S programs
- troubleshoot challenges and identify opportunities to advance F2S programs in our region
- provide an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals who are passionate about healthy, sustainable school food systems.
January 18: “Food Safety from Garden to Classroom”. Environmental Health Officers Kelcey Watts and Kuljeet Chattha presented an overview of key food safety practices associated with growing, harvesting, storing, preparing, serving and clean up after handling fresh produce. Click here for a PDF of Vancouver Coastal Health’s Food Safety Appendix for teachers!
February 15: “Preparing your Spring School Garden”. Carissa Kasper, coordinator of Project Garden, took us through online & in-person resources to help us succeed in our school garden projects – from planting to harvest! Click here to view a recorded version of this webinar!
March 8: “Growing Microgreens at School”. Addie Candole, Community Animator for the F2S Kamloops Hub, spoke to the basics of growing microgreens, providing examples of lesson plans based on growing and eating them in your classroom!
Spring is a busy time for all involved with F2S work: Farmers are sowing seeds, students are witnessing shoots sprouting from soggy soils, teachers are planning lessons and planting ideas, and community partners are continuing to support the F2S movement. As a community animator, it has been my job not only to devise ways to support and expand the current F2S network, but also to celebrate the incredible work being done across the region. For example, I recently met with a teacher who incorporates food system sustainability and climate justice into all of the lessons she teachers her Grade 2 students; from learning about water cycles to writing ecoliteracy journal entries in the garden, this teacher is an inspiring example of the experiences and opportunities we’re trying to foster in our communities.
On that note, the F2S Vancouver Area Hub is organizing a SPRING CELEBRATION to celebrate, connect, and inspire F2S players in our region. You don’t want to miss it – save the date and stay tuned for tickets!
MASHED POTATO TRUFFLES
YIELDS 1 dozen
5 min Prep Time 5 min Cook Time 10 min Total Time
- 1/2 cup cold mashed potatoes*
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup of topping for rolling (cocoa powder, coconut flakes, powdered sugar or finely chopped nuts)
- In a small bowl, add the chocolate chips. Melt them in the microwave at 50% power, or in a double boiler. Melt slowly and stir often. When they have melted entirely, stir in the mashed potatoes. Add the vanilla. Stir, stir, stir. And stir til you can’t stir no more.
- Place the mixture in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes.
- Pour your rolling mixture(s) in little bowls and have them ready. Take 1 tablespoon-sized hunks and roll between the palms of your hands. Roll in desired topping, then place on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm.
- They will keep in the fridge for 1 week.
*You may not use leftover mashed potatoes that contain garlic, herbs, sour cream or excessive spices. I didn’t try this recipe with instant potatoes; I used Russet potatoes that I peeled, boiled, and mashed with a splash of cream, milk, butter and salt.