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There’s a missing link between farms and schools – it’s essential that we bridge it for the health of our children and our communities. FarmOn! Foundation in partnership with the Poughkeepsie Farm Project and local support in the Poughkeepsie School District is presenting “Back to the Farm,” a month-long series of events in the Poughkeepsie School District this October celebrating local farms and local food. Multiple activities will be occurring simultaneously in different schools across the district funded by the FarmOn! Foundation in observance of National Farm to School Month. The kick-off event is the Ribbon Cutting ceremony of the S.F.B. Morse Elementary School FarmOn! Victory Garden on Wednesday, October 7th, during the New York State Farm to You Fest week.
Throughout the month, the school cafeterias will be serving a weekly locally-sourced dish featuring Slope Farm to School NYS ground beef to more than 4,000 students district-wide. Students at all four elementary schools will also enjoy tastings of local raw vegetables provided by the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, local milk provided by Hudson Valley Fresh, local apple taste tests lead by the Dutchess County Department of Health’s nutrition educator, and cooking demos and tastings of locally sourced vegetable dishes presented by chef interns from the Culinary Institute of America.
“Changing kids’ lives by bridging the gap between agriculture and public schools is vital,” says Tessa Edick, Executive Director of FarmOn! Foundation. ” Our mission is to bring farm fresh food to kids everywhere, and to invest in and rebuild local economies.”
“With over 80% of Poughkeepsie students eligible for free or reduced school meals and minimal access to fresh, local foods at home, the Back to the Farm event will make a major impact in our school district,” says Alan Muhlnickel, Director of Food Services in Poughkeepsie City School Districts.
Although these children live less than 10 miles from a working farm, many have never visited a farm and don’t know how food is grown or how milk is produced. “We know that hands-on experiences growing and preparing healthy food leads young people to make healthier choices and feel a connection to the land. ‘Back to the Farm’ will offer so many varied experiences for youth, educators, and families from milking cows and building school gardens to harvesting vegetables and cooking delicious dishes,” says Jamie Levato, Education Director of Poughkeepsie Farm Project.
Key Features of Back to the Farm Month: