New Britain Elementary Schools Host Local Fresh Produce “Farm Stand”

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Smith Elementary School and Vance Elementary School at New Britain School District partnered with Whitsons School Nutrition to host a Farm Stand showcasing local fresh produce as part of the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

Students Sampling Fresh Squash at Vance Elementary School

Students Sampling Fresh Squash at Vance Elementary School

This type of activity certainly promotes healthy eating habits and provides a great opportunity for our scholars to be exposed to the various types of vegetables that are in season.

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, a USDA sponsored program, provides assistance to schools in order to improve offering of fresh produce, teach children healthy eating habits and expand their food options. New Britain Public Schools participates in this program, allowing the elementary schools to serve fresh fruits and vegetables twice a week, free of charge. Recently, two New Britain School District elementary schools, with Whitsons School Nutrition’s support, organized “Farm Stands” showcasing different kinds of fresh produce.

Vance Village Elementary School hosted a “Farm Stand” featuring local butternut and acorn squash from Twin Oaks Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts. Whitsons School Nutrition Catering Manager Zoe Riccio conducted a sampling of the sliced squash with fat-free ranch dressing and Ms. Jayne Depole-Bogucki, Vance Elementary’s Art teacher, provided the bulletin board background showcasing seasonal squash drawn by her art students.

The fresh squash sampling was a great success; at the end of lunch time, Catering Manager Riccio had served 340 samples to the children who couldn’t get enough of the delicious local squash. According to Vance Elementary Principal, Ms. Sarah Harris “It was impressive to observe so many students eager to try healthy foods and enjoy it.”

The “Farm Stand” at Smith Elementary School highlighted different products from the parsley family: rainbow carrots, regular carrots, celery, parsnips and parsley. Ms. Riccio gave an educational presentation emphasizing interesting and curious facts about the produce. Whitsons School Nutrition staff offered the children a sample of each item with fat-free ranch dressing. Also, as a way of reinforcing the learning experience, they quizzed the students on the presentation, and if they answered correctly, they received a small prize such as bookmarks or pens. Over 350 samples of produce were served that day to the students with the help of the school lunch aides; many children came back for more.

These events are a great opportunity to familiarize students with certain types of fresh produce, learn new facts and inculcate healthy choices. Ms. Christine Bruemmer, Smith Elementary Principal agreed. “This type of activity certainly promotes healthy eating habits and provides a great opportunity for our scholars to be exposed to the various types of vegetables that are in season”.

Whitsons School Nutrition provides a wide range of highly customized dining services to public and private schools, with a strong focus on nutritious, high quality menus made from fresh, wholesome ingredients. Whitsons has a long and proud history of excellence and growth since 1979 and currently ranks the 16th largest dining company in the United States (Food Management magazine, September 2011). In addition to school nutrition, Whitsons’ scope of expertise and services extends to: culinary development, residential and healthcare dining, delivered meals, corporate dining, emergency dining and vending services.

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Sonia Garrido
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