Bringing Local Farm Food to Our Schools
Posted: 04/03/2013

Chittenden Central Supervisory Union (CCSU) was awarded a planning grant    to start a Farm to School program in our member school districts of Essex High School, Essex Junction and Westford!  On February 7, Director of CCSU Food Services  Bob Clifford, and CCSU Prevention and Wellness Coordinator  Gabrielle Ratté Smith, traveled to Montpelier to accept a certificate of the award from the Deputy Secretary of the VT Department of  Agriculture  (pictured).

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Diane Bothfeld (left) CCSU Food Service Director Bob Clifford (center), and CCSU Prevention and Wellness Coordinator Gabrielle Ratté Smith (right).

What does this mean for our schools and students?

  • Needs assessment  - We will gather information on what is currently happening in the three areas of Farm to School: the classroom, cafeteria and community – in each of our member schools.
  • Expand our Farm to School Team  (more information below)
  • Create an action plan  for our Farm to School program.  Through the grant, we have technical support from VT FEED, a local non-profit that has been working for years to build a network of Farm to School programs throughout the state and the Northeast.

Upcoming Farm to School Activities:

  • Farm to School Team SIGN-UP!   Email Gabrielle at before April 5th  to join!
  • Taste Tests with Local Food:  Spring 2013 – Elementary school students can sample veggie bar menu items.
  • Farm Field Trips for Students:  Fall 2013 – Students will visit orchards and farms to meet some of the farmers and learn how and where the food they eat is grown.

Are you interested in helping our children eat delicious, local and healthy food?
If so, then sign up for CCSU`s newly formed  Farm to School Team!   We have a great starting group, but we need more school staff, community members, and farmers to ensure that we  have a solid base from the classroom, community, and cafeteria.

We are a really fun group!  In addition to participating in the needs assessment and action planning, we are piloting taste tests in the elementary schools this spring to encourage more students to try foods from the veggie bars that were introduced this past fall.  Our meetings are usually potlucks, and there are lots of great cooks on the Team!

The Team meets about every other month, usually in the evenings.  However, we are considering holding a second meeting right before or after school if that meets the needs of school staff.    If you are interested in this team, contact Gabrielle and we will do all we can to make it work for your schedule.

Interested? Contact  Gabrielle at

What`s happening in the Classroom?
Students in CCSU  schools have health education, including nutrition, starting in Kindergarten. In grades K-6, students have 16 weeks of health class.  In grades 6-8, students take Family and Consumer Science, which includes nutrition, cooking, and meal planning.  Family and Consumer Science classes are offered at Essex High School, and all students are required to take a half credit Health class, which addresses nutrition.

Most of our schools have a school garden!  These gardens vary in size and what students are growing, like broccoli, kale, squash, and herbs, to name a few.

What’s next for the classroom and Farm to School?  
Looking at how we can improve the education and messaging around food and nutrition that we deliver to our kids through our school in and out of the classroom.  VT FEED and other existing Farm to School programs have great ideas for us to look at and gain inspiration!

What`s happening in the Community?
We will be announcing the date of our  Farm to School Celebration Dinner and Conversation soon!     Look for an announcement in our next newsletter.

We are fortunate to have great community support for local, fresh, sustainably produced food.  This is a great time to build our  Farm to School program!  The schools are fortunate to have strong community partners, like  Five Corners Farmers Market and Essex CHIPS, and many parents who are committed to helping the program.  Plus, Essex has locally-owned grocery stores, like Sweet Clover, that carry a variety of local and organic produce. These stores have expressed interest in supporting our program.  We will work with the Five Corners Farmers Market to invite farmers, growers, and other producers in Essex and in the towns and villages nearby to talk with us about how they can join our Farm to School effort.

What`s happening in the Cafeteria?
There have been  big changes to the menu  this school year.  New veggie bars arrived this year, and now all school cafeterias have them.  Students are gradually choosing more of the options offered on the veggie bar, including romaine lettuce,  mesclun  mix and a variety of fresh vegetable and legume salads.  Consumption of fat-free yogurt, fruits, and vegetables have been rising all year!   Check out the  Food Service webpage here.