Given the increasing rates of obesity and diabetes among school-aged children, helping kids make healthy food choices is more important than ever (1). That’s why this week we’re highlighting the successful strategies of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) from Asheville, NC. ASAP is a pioneer for innovative Farm to School projects and are well on their way to building a comprehensive approach for educating children, teachers, and community members alike about the importance of getting and keeping fresh, local foods in all our schools.
ASAP’s Farm to School Education Project has teamed up with Western Carolina University (WCU) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation to establish courses and on-the-farm workshops for students working on degrees in Education and Dietetics. These courses and workshops exposed future classroom and school leaders to curriculum that coordinates Farm to School principles with in-the-field education and experimentation. WCU students participating in the “Cultivating the Next Crop of Educators” program were then able to put theory into practice when they interned in local Jackson County Public School District.
The program implemented strategies like classroom cooking, taste testing, community gardening, and farm field trips, to name a few. As Ginny Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation said, “when schools work with community based organizations and business…..it’s the power of collaboration and partnership, and the power of different sectors within a community coming together, deciding what’s best for its community, what’s needed, and really making it happen.”
Check out our resources to find even more strategies for incorporating Farm to School principles in your community.
SUSTAINABILITY TIP: WCU is now working to make the “Cultivating the Next Crop of Educators” program into a permanent component of its pre-service curriculum for educators and dietitians. ASAP is working with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to expand the program to other universities and community colleges.