For more than a decade, Groundwork has been connecting schools and students to local farms and food. Our program was launched with just a few activities in one classroom in 2004, and gradually grew to feature biweekly farm to school activities in more than 70 individual classrooms across 14 schools, reaching nearly 2,000 students. Today, through our partnership with the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, Groundwork’s farm to school program reaches 24,000 students across Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, Antrim and Kalkaska counties.
In 2011, Groundwork became a founding service site for FoodCorps, a national service organization aiming to connect kids to real food and help them grow up healthy by providing nutrition, garden and culinary education to students in high-need schools. In the 2013-14 school year, our FoodCorps service members helped bring more than 1,500 pounds of local produce into cafeterias and classrooms in the Grand Traverse region. Three schools started school gardens, and eight more continued operating existing gardens. Cafeteria taste tests had nearly 2,000 students voting whether they “tried,” “liked,” or “loved” local products such as Romanesco cauliflower, parsnips, beets, asparagus, apples, and radishes.
Groundwork is also advancing a statewide policy initiative to reimburse school food service for purchasing local produce. Following a successful pilot program in northwest lower Michigan, 10 Cents a Meal has resulted in increased state funds for local food purchases at schools in two of the Governor’s prosperity regions throughout the state.
More articles on farm to school, FoodCorps, 10 Cents a Meal can be found here.