Category Archives: Farm to School

CALLING ALL JUNIOR IRON CHEFS

Statewide youth culinary competition now accepting teams….early bird registration deadline is December 16, 2015

Applications are now being accepted for the 9th annual Jr Iron Chef Vermont, a culinary competition for Vermont middle and high school students who are looking to show off their skills in the kitchen. Jr Iron Chef Vermont challenges teams of students to create healthy and delicious dishes made from local ingredients, which will ultimately inspire the menus of school meal programs.

“This competition is a really fun and exciting way to get kids excited about food,” says Jr. Iron Chef coordinator, Amy Gifford. “The tweens and teens who participate learn so much…not just about cooking, but about working together and tapping their own creativity!”

Applications will be accepted until January 16, 2016 on a first-come, first-serve basis. The early bird registration fee is $130.00 until December 16, 2015. After that, the registration fee increases to $150.00. Registration is limited to the first 75 teams, consisting of three to five students in 6th-8th grade, or 9th-12th grade. Applications are available online at www.jrironchefvt.org.

The Jr Iron Chef VT 2016 competition will be held on March 19, 2016 at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction. The contest guidelines are rigorous, intended to demonstrate the real-life challenges that food services face in creating healthy meals for schools. Two heats will be held the day of the competition, with 90 minutes of cooking time per heat. Winning teams receive prize packages, and have an opportunity to feature their recipes in the Vermont Statehouse Cafeteria.

Jr Iron Chef VT is hosted by Vermont FEED, a collaborative Farm to School Project of NOFA-VT and Shelburne Farms. From the start, the event has been committed to providing middle and high school students with a hands-on experience cooking nutritious, farm-fresh foods. When the event began in 2008, 35 teams participated. Last year, 260 students from every corner of the state competed on 61 teams.

Advertisements

Cultivating agricultural literacy across Vermont!

Agricultural LiteracyNOFA Vermont announces the fourth annual Agricultural Literacy Week on November 16-21, 2015. With a focus on local farming, healthy food, and strong communities, this event will promote the role of Vermont agriculture across the state.

Agricultural Literacy Week is designed to educate Vermont citizens about the important role of farms in our communities and to the economy of our state. People of all ages will have the opportunity to participate in events statewide to learn more about Vermont’s farms and farmers. This week of activities connects communities to their local farms, while also furthering Vermont’s Farm to Plate goals to increase food literacy and educational opportunities in schools and communities.

“Today, less than 2% of our national population makes a living farming,” says Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross. “That is why it is critical that we actively cultivate Ag Literacy – to ensure future generations appreciate and understand where their food comes from. Events like these help connect us to our agricultural roots and build awareness for the importance of farming in our community.”

Secretary Ross will be joined by Dr. Gregory Sharrow, the director of the Vermont Folklife Center, and Martha Reid, State Librarian at Vermont Department of Libraries for an event to kick off Agricultural Literacy Week, at the Folklife Center in Middlebury on Monday, November 16, from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm. The event will feature a special presentation of the Poultney Working Lands Oral History Project, which engaged local high school students to explore, celebrate and document in various mediums the heritage of their neighbors who were involved in farming, sugaring, quarrying, forestry, hunting and trapping. Students gained skills in interviewing, writing, and map reading,

“What was just the town of Poultney became a valley of characters, characters with stories which made their corner of Vermont special,” said Scout Proft, NOFA Vermont’s Rutland and Bennington County Farm to Community Mentor, who created the oral history project. “Hidden in their learning, too, was a realization that working the land is darn interesting, and certainly worthy of attention.”

Agricultural Literacy Week is organized by NOFA Vermont, with help from partners at the VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, UVM Extension, and the VT Department of Libraries. The Poultney Working Lands Oral History Project is supported by funds through the Johnson Family Foundation and Farm Credit Northeast Ag Enhancement Program.

Agency of Ag Announces More than $50,000 of Farm to School Grant Funding Available to VT Schools

Information about the Vermont Farm to School Program and a downloadable grant application »

All Vermont schools, consortium of schools, and school districts are eligible to apply for funding.  Program applications must be received by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture no later than 4:30 pm on Friday, November 6, 2015.


State leaders gathered together on October 13th, 2015 at Sustainability Academy in Burlington to recognize Farm to School Awareness Month, a statewide celebration of the Farm to School (FTS) Program that connects thousands of Vermont students with fresh, healthy, local foods every year.  Among the celebrants were Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross, Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, Health Commissioner Harry Chen, Burlington Schools Superintendent Yaw Obeng, Vermont state legislators, as well as representatives from the office of Senator Leahy, and other important Farm to School stakeholders.

Vermont Agency of Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross announced more than $50,000 in funding available to all Vermont schools for the purpose of developing or expanding Farm to School programming for Vermont students in 2016.

Vermont is a national leader in Farm to School programming; our schools spend a larger percentage of their food budgets on locally sourced foods than any other state.

“Farm to School programs are a vital tool we can use to promote agricultural literacy in schools so that, from an early age, students understand the value of nutrition, develop healthy eating habits, and appreciate where their food comes from,” said  Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross.  “Farm to School programming helps build a culture of ‘Ag Literacy’ in our schools and communities. These programs are an essential part of building the connection between agriculture and the next generation of Vermonters, while also teaching our students to make healthy choices and ensuring food access for all.”

Since 2007, the state of Vermont has appropriated more than $800,000 in support of Farm to School programming.  The Vermont Farm to School Grant Program has awarded funds to 70 schools and supervisory unions throughout the state to facilitate the integration of local foods in school cafeterias, classrooms and communities, impacting roughly 30% of all schools in Vermont.

Today’s event also served as an opportunity to highlight several new developments in Vermont’s Farm to School landscape, including:

  • The newly established inter-agency strategic partnership between the Agency of Agriculture and the Departments of Education and Health focused on developing Farm to School programs throughout the state.
  • New School Wellness Policy Guidelines which now more strongly incorporate FTS programming and recommendations for local food in school nutrition standards and education.
  • Recently released Vermont Farm to School Network Goals to engage 75% of Vermont Schools in Farm to School programming and purchases at least 50% of food regionally by 2025.

2015 Farm to School Awareness Month Press Event

Following the celebratory remarks, the Sustainability Academy’s 4th and 5th grade garden club treated event guests to a taste test of fresh kale pesto made with kale harvested from school gardens in Burlington – a fitting choice of vegetable as today, October 7th, is also National Kale Day.  Taste tests, a popular tool used to encourage students to try new foods, are the official theme of Farm to School Awareness month in Vermont.  Students participating in FTS programs will be conducting various taste tests for their classmates using fresh, local food throughout the month of October.

Vermont Farm to School program grant program is made possible by collaboration between the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Agency of Education, VT FEED (Food Education Every Day) and the Vermont Farm to School Network.

If  you have questions about Vermont’s Farm to School program or the 2016 funding, contact Ali Zipparo at 802-505-1822, or Alexandra.Zipparo@vermont.gov.