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What’s Growing On? October 2022 News from Grow Education

by: Adam Davenport, Grow Education Program Manager

October is Farm to School Month, a great time to celebrate some of the accomplishments this movement has made on both the local and national levels. Last month, President Biden held a conference on Food, Nutrition and Health. It’s been more than 50 years since the White House held a conference on this topic – partially convened by Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern. Outcomes from the last conference, held in 1969, led to the creation of the school meals program and the Women, Infant, and Children Program (WIC). We hope the results from this year’s conference will take a serious look at some of the lessons learned during the pandemic and make them operational going forth such as Child Tax Credits, offering universal school meals and removing the stigmatizing categories of “free, reduced, and full-priced meals,” and increased support for the Good Food Purchasing and Farm to School Programs. Farm to School initiatives improve student health by providing nutritious, tasty, culturally-relevant meals while building crucial community connections with our local food producers.

Locally, Grow Education is continuing to support the expansion of Farm to School on the Southcoast with teachers and staff from Westport Public Schools. This month, we participated in the Massachusetts Farm to School Institute’s retreat held on October 6th and 7th. We spent two full days listening to panels, talking about garden-based curriculum, and building a vision and an action plan for the upcoming year. Westport, like New Bedford elementary schools, will be supported by Grow Education through a year of programming starting with planting garlic seed and cover crops this fall. This will feed into a variety of activities to connect the classroom, garden, cafeteria, and community to their Farm to School Action Plan.

Want to get more involved? Join the Marion Institute, as we support the advocacy work being led by the Massachusetts Farm to School organization to establish a Farm to School Grant Program. This would be a great funding opportunity for school districts across the Southcoast that want to implement Farm to School into their school’s cafeterias as a way of getting healthier, local foods onto the plates – and into the bellies of our youth!

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