The Van Buren School District showcased its FoodCorps program and on-campus gardens during a recent “Farm to School” tour.
Educators from throughout the region attended the event, which included visits to Parkview, King, Tate and Rena elementary schools. VBSD FoodCorps coordinators facilitated the tour and answered participants’ questions about how the district implements the program.
VBSD introduced FoodCorps in 2016 at King and Tate. Gardens were installed on both campuses, giving students the opportunity to learn about growing their own food and about the nutritional benefits of fresh produce. FoodCorps educators work with teachers across grade levels to implement lessons throughout the curriculum.
In 2017, the district expanded the initiative to include Parkview and Rena.
The Farm to Table tour kicked off at Parkview, where visitors observed a classroom lesson with first graders. The students learned about the various elements plants need to grow and began an experiment to see under what conditions plants fail or thrive.
The group then traveled to King Elementary, where they observed lunchtime taste tests of the vegetable of the month, spinach. School resource officers and program volunteers served up samples of spinach to students, giving them the chance to vote on whether or not they liked it.
Tour participants then made their way outside to see King’s Project Learning Garden before heading to Tate.
There the group viewed the garden and discussed funding, as well as the importance of having community and administrative support for the initiative. The final stop of the day was at Rena, which installed its garden in mid-January.
VBSD shared about starting a program from scratch, as well as how to find donations and engage volunteers in the process.
“The response to FoodCorps has been overwhelmingly positive and we were excited to share about our experience with other districts,” said Drew Cone, VBSD activities administrator. “The lessons our students are learning through the gardening and nutrition curriculum will benefit them throughout their lifetime. It is our hope that other schools will take back what they learned from the tour and implement programs in their districts so that even more children can benefit from this amazing initiative.”
For more information about FoodCorps, visit www.foodcorps.org.