Last June, we joined states like Vermont, Massachusetts and Mississippi in offering a unique learning and action planning opportunity for school, district and ECE teams interested in strengthening their farm to school activities by hosting our first Pennsylvania Farm to School Institute.

During the USDA Farm to School Grant-supported event, multi-disciplinary teams composed of teachers, administrators and food service professionals participated in training sessions followed by working groups to create farm to school action plans with specific steps to implement procurement, school gardening and education activities at their school, district or ECE site. Coaches facilitated the planning process during the retreat and will continue supporting sites with technical assistance and program implementation throughout the year. Each site also received $1,000 in discretionary funding to support the implementation of their plans.

Here’s a story from one of the sites:

Audrey Hess, a Public Health Nutritionist at the Division of Food & Nutrition within the Pennsylvania Department of Education, is the coach for the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA, one of the beneficiaries of the Institute. Included in its action plan, the YMCA is taking children on farm field trips, bringing hands-on agriculture to preschool classrooms, and tracking its local purchases as it strives to serve more locally grown foods to the children it serves.

Here’s what Tiffany Ranck, Preschool Coordinator & Pre-K Counts Teacher at the YMCA, had to say about the experience so far:

“The Farm to School Grant enabled us to fund a field trip for our preschool and school-aged children, all 60 of them, to the apple orchard! We were able to ride the hay wagon up to the orchard, fill a bag with apples we picked ourselves and then take them home. The energy and excitement of our children was amazing to see.

Post-Institute, we have been able to implement the Grow It, Try It, Like It curriculum with our preschoolers almost weekly and have found that our students are making better connections of where our food is grown and what happens to it prior to us eating it. We have grand plans to grow some vegetables within our classrooms also!”


Interested in attending a future Farm to School Institute?

Let us know by emailing and we’ll keep you informed about our plans for the future.

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