Education

Published on July 20th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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District Five awarded $14,000 grant for Boeing, College of Charleston-based culinary training

District Five cafeteria workers participate in a July 6-10 training in Charleston as part of a College of Charleston-based Farm to School Initiative funded through Boeing.

IRMO – Cafeteria workers in Lexington-Richland School District Five are sharpening their cooking skills this summer, thanks to a new initiative and grant promoting the use of local ingredients in school meals.

The new $14,000 grant for District Five is part of a College of Charleston-based Farm to School initiative funded by Boeing. Student Nutrition staff from several school districts will be trained by certified chefs from the Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College to prepare and serve healthy school meals using local produce, as directed by USDA school nutrition guidelines. Fourteen District Five cafeteria workers were trained at Trident Technical College July 6-10.

“Farm to School is a social movement that creates an atmosphere of optimism and excitement about eating for optimal health and wellness, which is important for a number of reasons including that healthy people drive community economic development,” said Olivia Thompson, a professor and Farm to School director within the Mayor Joseph P. Riley Institute for Livable Communities at the College of Charleston.

Through the training, apprentices will be able to earn a certificate in sustainable agriculture through the College of Charleston’s Center for Continuing Education JobBridge Certification program. District Five is one of four districts selected for the initiative; which was launched in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties and expanded statewide this year.

“The Farm to School initiative is important for a number of reasons. It promotes healthy eating and living habits with children at an early age; increases access to locally-grown foods; and, through comprehensive school-based gardening programs, … it promotes S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning through the experiential process of starting and maintaining a school garden,” said Jessica Jackson, Global Corporate Citizenship manager at Boeing South Carolina.

The new grant is the latest of several initiatives and programs promoting healthy meals in District Five through grants and sponsorships. On June 29, the district’s Student Nutrition Department unveiled a new grant-funded food truck to serve high school students throughout the school year and deliver food to students in need during the summer. The district’s Student Nutrition Department also hosted a “Chopped” cooking contest in May for fourth grade students as part of District Five’s federal Farm to Five grant, which it received in 2013. The $100,000 federal grant also has provided summer training for cafeteria staff and student field trips to local farms, in addition to upgrades to several school gardens.

“It is essential to have our Farm to Five program assist with getting local foods into District Five schools,” said District Five Director of Student Nutrition Todd Bedenbaugh, who hopes to have more of his staff trained in the future. “We have school gardens in many of our schools and this allows our students in District Five to see exactly where fresh fruits and vegetables come from. The students are planting the seeds and watching them grow, which makes them more willing to eat the fruits and vegetables. Grants like these are also planting seeds of sorts, a new way of thinking about student nutrition and a new path to healthy meals for our students.”

 

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