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February 2014 Newsletter
Update on 2013-2014 Farm to School Institute
Greening of St Albans City School
Sharpening our Knives for Jr Iron Chef VT
VT Heads to National Farm to Cafeteria Conference
BCBS of VT a Sustaining Supporter of VT FEED
Staffing Updates
Upcoming Events
2014 Jr Iron Chef Logo Save the Date!

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Vermont FEED's goal is to support the development of robust and sustainable farm to school programs. 
The primary focus of our work is professional development and technical assistance for schools and communities. One of the primary vehicles for this work is the year-long Farm to School (FTS) Institute. This winter we are also providing workshops for food service professionals in partnership with the School Nutrition Association of Vermont. See "Upcoming Events" for details.
We want your school! Applications for the FREE 2014 FTS Institute are being accepted until March 20th. Apply now!
Check out this video from the St Albans City School about their amazing experience at the 2013 Institute's summer workshop.
"In Their Own Words"  Updates from
2013-2014 Farm to School Institute Participants

The FREE FTS Institute kicks-off with a three-day intensive summer workshop at Shelburne Farms and is followed by in-school mentoring during the academic year. 

Why should your school apply in 2014? Hear from current participating Vermont schools:


Mount Anthony Union Middle School

  • "The FTS Institute was miraculously wonderful!  The application required us to create a team of multiple stakeholders from various departments at the school. We see this as key to building long-term program sustainability. Having the support of our mentor at the Summer Workshop helped us to focus our goals and create an action plan that felt tailored to the needs of our school. Now back at school, we've held a successful Community Harvest Dinner, hosted a draft horse demonstration, and begun a composting program. 

Jericho Elementary School, Jericho

  • "Since being a part of the Institute, we've embedded our FTS program within the school's larger wellness initiative and have shared our progress on the school's wellness blog at Some of our accomplishments include: adding a new fruit/veggie bar in the cafeteria and increasing local products on the menu; conducting staff and student garden activities and harvests; taste testing that includes students in the food preparation; and a school-wide Stone Soup harvest celebration."
National Recognition for the Greening of 
St Albans City School

Things move fast at St Albans City school. After being identified as a low-performing school, the administration quickly turned things around. St Albans City School re-created and re-branded themselves as a Green School and received national recognition in 2013 from the US Department of Education's Green Ribbon program. The school's accomplishments are impressive and their robust Farm to School (FTS) program has been a significant driver of this success. Creating stewards - of self, school, community, and the world - is the basis of the school's mission.


"Stewardship, and awareness of how we are connected to the community, has already become part of school culture. It is ingrained in everything we do. When students create projects, they now ask "how does this promote stewardship?" If they can't come up with an answer, they look for connections to bring in sustainable practices," commented Heather Smith, the FTS Coordinator.

Heather Smith and students make apple muffins

The mission of the St Albans City FTS program is to connect students with sustainable planting practices to grow vegetables and fruits for the school cafeteria, to offer field trips, and to provide instruction with harvest and cooking demonstrations. The 750 K-8 students are divided into 11 academic teams and each designs, plants, and maintains the raised beds that surround the school. There are now pizza, salsa, and dill pickle gardens overflowing with greenery from late spring into fall. The hands-on learning has proved very rewarding for students and teachers. 


"I'm so excited. It's going to be so cool knowing that we are supplying our own food and that everybody is getting involved with this," said Alyssa, an 8th grader.

The school recently discovered that they own 30 acres surrounding their campus and is developing a plan to maximize the learning and growing potential of the land. Future projects may include an outdoor classroom and a Christmas tree farm. In the meantime, the school has re-envisioned the grounds by planting a large blueberry patch and an orchard with eight apple and pear trees.

Farm to School is prominent in the classroom as well. Heather works with the entire teaching staff to integrate food, farming, and nutrition lessons into existing curriculum. According to Heather, "I provide support and encouragement, empowering educators to be able to say I have the time, tools, and resources to make this happen." In addition, Mary Ellen Lamb, the Family and Consumer Science Teacher, started "Farm to School Fridays" opening her classroom for teachers to bring students for cooking or food preservation projects.

The community is directly benefitting from FTS with student-cooked harvest dinners and a compost project where students will teach residents about home and city-wide composting. The FTS program has been so successful the school is actively exploring options to keep a part-time Coordinator on staff until the program develops stronger roots and can flourish on its own.

St Albans students with planted garden
St Albans City students with planted garden bed
 Sharpening our Knives for 
Junior Iron Chef Next Month

2014 Jr Iron Chef LogoImagine over 200 teenagers slicing and dicing in a race to create the most delicious dish. An exciting local culinary event is coming your way! 


Jr Iron Chef VT is a statewide culinary competition that challenges middle and high school students to create healthy, local dishes that inspire school meal programs. 


Sixty-six teams will compete on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at the Champlain Valley Exposition. Teams are made up of 3-5 students in grades 6-8 or 9-12. There will be 2 heats, with 90 minutes of cooking per heat. Judges, including food service, recipe testers, students, farmers, and chefs will critique each recipe. Three middle and high school teams in each heat will receive one of three awards: Lively Local, Best in Show, and Mise en Place ("everything in its place"). Winning teams receive a prize package overflowing with items that will inspire them to continue cooking and eating healthy food.  Questions? Visit

 Vermonters head to the National 
Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Austin, Texas

The  7th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference: Powering Up will convene more than 1,000 farm to cafeteria practitioners in Austin, Texas, April 15-18, for inspiring field trips, workshops, speakers and networking. Vermont FEED staff and many other experts from around the state are polishing up their cowboy boots and getting ready to share their FTS expertise as presenters.


Attendees will include food service professionals, farmers, educators, youth leaders, policy makers, non-profit advocates, state/federal agency professionals, entrepreneurs, public health professionals and others who are working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. 


Register by March 4 to receive a special, early-bird rate!

Since 2007, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) has partnered with Vermont FEED to focus on obesity prevention and promote nutrition education as well as provide funds for grants, trainings and other statewide initiatives.

In 2012, BCBSVT increased their involvement with a significant, sustaining partnership through the Vermont Caring for Children Foundation (Vermont Caring Foundation). BCBSVT created the Vermont Caring Foundation-a nonprofit charitable organization-several years ago to support and improve health-related programs for Vermont's children and teenagers.


"We feel privileged to be able to support the Vermont FEED programs," shares BCBSVT's CEO and President, Don George. "We look forward to working directly with Vermont FEED in our communities and schools to help raise awareness about healthy food, the role of Vermont farms, farmers and good nutrition. The partnership with Vermont FEED aligns with the mission of the Vermont Caring Foundation to improve the health of Vermont's children."


Megan Peek, BCBSVT's community relations and health education coordinator, has been involved with Vermont FEED for many years. She saw the sponsorship as a perfect fit for BCBSVT's commitment and the foundation's mission.


Peek shares, "We're at a point in Vermont where these farm-to-school systems are exploding. People are ready for it; communities are ready for it and it's just happening.  Nevertheless, the reason we need an organization such as Vermont FEED is that we want the system to be as strong and sustainable, as possible. We're well equipped as Vermonters to expand on our current healthy food system. We just need to make these changes last."


"Our hope is that this becomes a sustained relationship with Vermont FEED for many years to come," George concludes. To see a timeline of this partnership, visit the Sustaining Supporter page on our website.


BC BS of VT logo  

Staffing Updates

This month we say goodbye to Anne Bijur who leaves us to return to classroom teaching and hello to Betsy Rosenbluth who has joined as Project Director. Abbie Nelson is now Program Director.


Betsy Rosenbluth Betsy Rosenbluth has been a long time collaborator with Shelburne Farms on many projects related to school food, sustainability and environmental education. Now she has come to work with Shelburne Farms as Project Director for Vermont FEED, bringing experience in community development, engaging diverse populations, especially youth, and making things happen. Among the things she has made happen are the Burlington School Food Project and Education for Sustainability programs in Burlington schools that were launched while she was working on the Burlington Legacy program. She also helped VT FEED draft and pass Vermont's first Farm to School bill and led the effort to create a science learning center on Burlington's Waterfront, now the ECHO museum. 
For the past six years, Betsy has worked with the Orton Family Foundation with a focus on community planning and development in small cities and towns. Welcome Betsy!