The Groundwork Center has played a key catalyzing role in the northwest Michigan farm to school movement since first writing about the idea in April 2002. We included this new-old strategy as part of a special report entitled The New Entrepreneurial Agriculture, which celebrated local farmers selling direct to customers in their own community as a burgeoning opportunity. Most recently, our 10 Cents a Meal initiative has inspired state policy. Our farm to school report explores how the movement grew legs and is moving steadily forward, what events and resources helped it gain momentum, who the key players and partners have been, and what strides they took to put healthy, local food on the plates and in the curriculum of students throughout northwest Michigan, and beyond.
Education and proper nutrition are two of the most important tools in advancing childhood development. By linking engaging, curriculum-driven lessons with good nutrition rooted in our local food system, children in northwest Michigan have the opportunity to succeed academically and develop healthy habits to last a lifetime.
— Meghan McDermott, food & farming program director
For more than a decade, Groundwork has connected schools and students to local farms and food. Our program launched with a few activities in one classroom in 2004, and gradually grew to feature bi-weekly farm to school activities in more than 70 classrooms across 14 schools, reaching nearly 2,000 students. Today, our broad program focuses on building capacity for teachers and school districts to integrate farm to school activities in their classrooms and school buildings throughout northwest Michigan.
Groundwork has partnered with the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District to serve students in Benzie, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Antrim and Kalkaska counties. In 2015, we worked with curriculum specialists to support the integration of farm to school lessons and activities into existing standards throughout northwest Michigan.
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.
More articles on farm to school, FoodCorps, 10 Cents a Meal can be found here.