Grow Southcoast has undertaken a formative month in building the Farm to School Project with New Bedford Public Schools. The Farm to School Project adds to Grow’s garden-based education programming—with the goal of improving school food to be healthy, fresh, tasty and local! Our work engages students and families in the classroom, cafeteria and community for a wholistic and delicious experience.
Along with a local coalition of community partners, including the New Bedford Food Service Department, we visited the impressive Springfield Culinary and Nutrition Center as a key step in gathering research. Their central kitchen is housed in a 65,000 sq. ft. warehouse that is home to numerous kitchens, freezer and refrigeration space, a processing facility and dry storage all which will allow Springfield to make higher quality food, source local ingredients and innovate new menu items. Here in New Bedford, it is our teams’ goal to build a similar type of central kitchen that would build the capacity of New Bedford Food Service Department to nourish our youth with high quality meals!
The New Bedford Public School’s district team was lucky to be accepted as one of six statewide participants to the MA Farm to School Institute. This year-long opportunity includes a Farm to School consultant that will guide our team to implement our action plan. Last weekend, we participated in 2-day retreat at the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA. At this retreat, Marion Institute staff attended presentations, workshops, and built relationships with our district team, over many hours, to create an action plan for the upcoming year. We left inspired, motivated and excited for the next steps in this year’s Farm to School project. With partners in New Bedford’s Public School Administration, Food Service Department, teachers and non-profit partners, including Coastal Foodshed and the Marion Institute, we are poised to build momentum in nourishing healthy and wholesome youth!