BKW selected to participate in Northeast Farm to School Institute

BKW is among 12 school districts from upstate New York and New England selected to participate in the Northeast Farm to School (FTS) Institute, a unique, year-long program that advances food, farm and nutrition education and expands student access to healthy, locally produced foods in school cafeterias.

Representing BKW at the program’s June 25-27 kickoff at Shelburne Farms, Vt., were Superintendent Timothy Mundell, Board of Education President Nathan Elble, food services manager Claire Groudine, agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Michaela Kehrer, elementary teacher and Junior FFA advisor Sarah McArdle, English teacher Bonnie Kane, and teacher aide Jane Ferrara.

They joined with other teams of educators, administrators, food service professionals and community partners in meeting with peers and experts to expand their understanding of FTS goals and practices.

Each team developed an action plan for the coming school year, working in collaboration with an experienced FTS coach, with whom they will continue working to implement their programs. The teams will also integrate best practices such as farm visits, gardening and cooking activities, serving seasonal foods in school cafeterias and offering food-based, hands-on science, math and literacy lessons.

BKW’s plan will better connect students, staff and the community with the production and consumption of healthy food. The district’s FTS team seeks to increase student involvement, incorporate local produce and new foods on campus, connect with resources to fight food insecurity and hunger, and strengthen community partnerships.

The Northeast Farm to School Institute is coordinated by Shelburne Farms and Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) through their Vermont FEED initiative. BKW was selected for the institute following a competitive application process that demonstrated the district’s commitment and readiness to develop and establish an effective Farm to School program.

In addition to their immersion in the world of farm to school, BKW’s team discovered a local connection at the institute. Vermont FEED co-founding partner and FTS Institute presenter Joseph Kiefer grew up on a farm in Westerlo. He will share his experiences with BKW faculty and staff and work with the FTS team during the coming school year.

According to the most recent USDA Farm to School Census, 61 percent of New York schools serve locally grown foods, and another 16 percent plan to start farm to school activities in the future. According to the USDA, $45,324,500 is invested in local food in New York State, with the average school district spending 11 percent of their budget on local products.

Farm to School Institute team members pose as a group

Pictured  from left at the June kickoff: Superintendent Timothy Mundell, agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Michaela Kehrer, English teacher Bonnie Kane, teacher aide Jane Ferrara, food services manager Claire Groudine, elementary teacher and Junior FFA advisor Sarah McArdle, and Board of Education President Nathan Elble.