Leahy Praises VT FTS & Cookbook
ANESU Serves Up Savvy Summer Meals
FTS Profile: Peter Allison
FTS Network Summer Gathering
Vermonters at SNA's National Conference
Spring Training in Sharon
Summer School at the FTS Institute
FTS Action Planning 101
BCBSVT Helps Employees Join CSAs
Recipe: Green Monster Pops!
Upcoming Events

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August 2014 Newsletter

What Does Farm to School  
Mean to You?

Healthy foods. Great education. Engaged kids. Strong communities. Hope for the future.

Whatever Farm to School means to you, read on for insights, stories of leading programs and tools, and ideas that will help you grow your program. And check out this inspiring video highlighting what Farm to School means to network members.

What Does Farm to School Mean to You?
Cookbook Goes to Washington!
Sen. Leahy Praises New School Cuisine
in Congress and to White House

We know that kids love the healthy, local recipes from our New School Cuisine Cookbook. But it turns out senators love them too!


Vermont's Senator Patrick Leahy recently shared this groundbreaking resource and the impact of Farm to School work in Vermont with the Senate Agriculture Committee and with the White House.


At a Senate Agriculture Committee oversight hearing on child nutrition in July, Sen. Leahy's staff shared pumpkin squares made from the cookbook, which were quickly "gobbled up" by Senators and staff. Sen. Leahy held up the cookbook, which was then referenced throughout committee hearings. Afterward, Sen. Leahy provided a copy of the cookbook to the White House's Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let's Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy.  


"I am proud of VT FEED's strategy to improve school nutrition standards and I believe this cookbook is a valuable resource to meet the goal of providing our nation's children with nutritious food options," wrote Sen. Leahy in a letter to Sam Kass.


Read the full article and see Sen. Leahy's letter to Sam Kass >


Savvy Summer Meals
ANESU serves hundreds of free meals to kids all
summer long, equalizing access to food


On a warm day in July, Kathy parked her Ford and started unloading fresh summer fare with local flair: tuna salad with celery, macaroni salad, pepper strips, and watermelon. Even though Kathy was early, a crowd waited for her, ready to exchange warm smiles and load up on lunch.


But this wasn't a hip local food truck. Kathy is a food service staff member from Addison Northeast Supervisory Union (ANESU), and she was making a delivery run of summer lunches, prepared from scratch, to children in a mobile home park.  


From June to August, as part of USDA's Summer Food Service Program, ANESU Food Service Cooperative offers these summer meals for free to all kids 18 and under, fresh (packed daily!) and nutritious (each meal meets USDA guidelines). Kathy Alexander, the Director of the Cooperative, added this program four years ago to help meet her goal of "equalizing access to food" for every student in the district.   


In the beginning, ANESU served 50 meals at one site. This summer they're serving 300-400 meals a day from 12 sites, including libraries, schools, the town recreation center, and neighborhoods.


Read full article online > 


 Farm to School Profile 
Peter Allison, Upper Valley Farm to School Network Founder 



If Peter Allison were a vegetable, he'd be a beet. (And not just because it rhymes with Pete.) What's not to love? It's great raw, pickled and cooked. It stores well and gets your hands all red. It grows underground, a mystery unto itself. And when you pull it up, there's that color...  


A wry humor and passion for healthy food were on display when we caught up with Peter at the Farm to School Institute in June, where he was serving as a mentor, and they are both critical ingredients in Peter's success building vibrant Farm to School networks in the Upper Valley and throughout New England.


Seven years ago, Peter was a father and a consultant living on a farm in Hartford when his town received one of the State's first Farm to School grants. Peter became the Town's Farm to School coordinator and it turned out to be a strong fit. "I got hooked right out of the gate," Peter said.


Read full article online >   


A Gala Affair
State and National Leaders Praise Vermont's
FTS Programs at Network Gathering

Rain couldn't dampen the spirits of the more than 150 people who gathered on June 25 for the Vermont Farm to School Network's Summer Gathering. We welcomed more than 60 Farm to School Institute team members, as well as strong contingents of food and farm funders, Farm to School advocates, and statewide leaders and officials for networking, dinner provided by the Farmhouse Group, and remarks by a host of state and national leaders.


"This is a movement. It's not just a good idea anymore. It's taken hold," said Mary Stein, Deputy Director of the National Farm to School Network, setting the tone for the evening. She went on to note that Vermont is the leader of Farm to School activities in the Northeast region, and the national Network constantly looks to this region for examples to help guide the rest of the country.


Mary was part of a panel of Farm to School practitioners and national leaders. Moderated by Betsy Rosenbluth, Project Director of VT FEED, the panel also included the National Farm to School Network's Policy Director Helen Dombalis; Stephen Greene and Helen Fields of Mount Anthony Union Middle School; and Kathy Alexander, Director of the Addison Northeast Food Service Cooperative. Two state leaders spoke as well: Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, and Stuart Comstock-Gay, President of the Vermont Community Foundation.


"[Farm to School] enables students to leave the school at the end of the school day and the end of their school career better equipped, better educated, and ready to take the action we need to take to survive the 21st Century," said Chuck Ross. "I'm proud to be the Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture in the State of Vermont, where we have such a dynamic, powerful, and model Farm to School program that we have national leaders come to us to see how we do it in Vermont."


Dishing It Out
FEED Presents at the School Nutrition Association
Annual National Conference


Food service shouldn't just be about filling plates at lunchtime; it should be a part of students' education every day, encouraging healthy living.  


This was the key takeaway from a workshop on the changing role of school food service at the School Nutrition Association's Annual National Conference last month in Boston, presented by Abbie Nelson, Program Director at VT FEED, and Kathy Alexander, Director of the Addison Northeast Food Service Cooperative.  


From bringing students into the kitchen for taste tests to classroom activities with teachers and staff, Abbie and Kathy shared best practices and creative strategies honed in the kitchens and classrooms around Vermont.  


Twenty seven other Vermonters joined Abbie and Kathy at the conference, bringing back new expertise and ideas to liven up their own kitchens. SNA-VT's board helped make that possible, offering eight full scholarships to school nutrition staff. We can't wait to see (and taste!) all the great ideas coming back to Vermont.  


 Spring Training 

FEED Offers Professional Development Course in Sharon 

On a picture-perfect spring evening, two dozen teachers sprawled in the grass around the school gardens. They were celebrating the end of FEED's spring professional development class, hosted by Sharon Elementary and Upper Valley Farm to School Network. Their bellies were full of NOFA-VT's famous wood-fired pizza and their heads were full of new ideas for Farm to School programs.  


Through the spring, participants saw Farm to School successes in action, such as Sharon Elementary's classroom gardens and a pasta dinner cooked by Sharon's winning Jr. Iron Chef Vermont team. Inspired by fresh insights and feedback from peers, and by time to work together with colleagues, 27 participants from 14 Upper Valley schools came away with tangible new lessons, school action plans, or garden curriculums.  


Join a Professional Development Course! 


VT FEED offers  professional development courses each year.  


Our next course is tentatively scheduled for Chittenden County in Fall of 2014 (registration to come), and watch for a course in Windham and Windsor Counties in 2015.


Summer School 
Farm to School Institute Trains Next Generation of Leaders
Sixty seven new Farm to School leaders descended on Shelburne Farms from June 25-27 for the start of the Farm to School Institute - an intensive year-long professional development opportunity that helps schools develop and implement a Farm to School action plan. Since 2010, the Institute has helped more than 37 Vermont teams develop vibrant Farm to School programs.

Teams from ten schools around Vermont spent three days learning about best practices and innovative ideas in Farm to School programs. Teams listened to keynote speakers like Anore Horton, Child Nutrition Advocacy Manager at Hunger Free Vermont, and Joseph Kiefer, co-founder of VT FEED, and chose from workshops on local procurement, curriculum development, cooking with students, taste tests, composting, and more. Teams even experienced a fast-paced "Iron Chef" event, cooking their own lunches from the New School Cuisine cookbook. An experienced mentor worked with each group to develop an action plan and will continue to guide each team through the 2014-2015 school year as they put their plans into place.

Read the full press release >

Bristol Elementary School, Lake Region Union High School (Orleans), Lothrop Elementary School (Pittsford), Missisquoi Valley Union High (Swanton), Newton School (Strafford), Orchard School (South Burlington), Putney Central School, Richmond Elementary School, Shelburne Community School, and Two Rivers Supervisory Union (Ludlow).

Farm to School 101 
FEED Offers Action Planning Workshop for School Teams 


School was out for students, but teachers were back in the classroom this June! For the first time, VT FEED offered a 1-day working session on Farm to School action planning for school teams that were not able to participate in the Farm to School Institute.

On June 30th, seven teams from across Vermont were introduced to resources and funding opportunities and action planning work sessions. Many teams have gardens or some FTS activities in place already, but the workshop helped them to think strategically about integrating the "3Cs" - Classroom, Cafeteria and Community - and helped them develop goals and actions for each area. The FEED staff hopes the workshop will help participating schools develop competitive applications for future grants and opportunities and build stronger programs on their own.

Participating Schools

Barnard Academy, Bethel Public Schools, Essex Town School District, Hazen Union High School (Hardwick), Laraway School (Johnson), Long Trail School (Dorset), and Unity (NH) Elementary School.


By Alan Cunningham, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont    


Our partnership with Vermont FEED has always been based on our support of FEED's mission to work with schools and communities to raise awareness about healthy food, good nutrition and the role of Vermont farms and farmers. As part of the Vermont community, we also feel the need to extend this mission into our own workplace.  


As part of our nationally recognized worksite health and wellness program, STRIVE, we offer employees Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships. We subsidize weekly farm shares for our employees in an effort to help them buy and eat fresh, healthy, local food; this reinforces our support of Vermont FEED, employee health and wellness, and building a model of healthy living.  


Screamin' Ridge Farm in East Montpelier delivers our shares to employees directly at the workplace. Shares always include high-quality produce, eggs and bread. Local meat, sauces and cheeses are often included as well. The CSA deliveries are sometimes themed and recipes are available to employees to ensure that they know how to use and cook their produce. Employees also praise the opportunity to customize their deliveries, which can particularly help members with gluten or other allergies.  


Over 25 employees at BCBSVT have participated in the share each of the last two summers, and 15 employees participated in the share this past winter. Other employers in Vermont, including the State of Vermont, offer CSA memberships to their employees as well.  


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is proud to offer the CSAs, allowing us to demonstrate our commitment to employee health and wellness and to Vermont's farms and communities. We encourage you to look into bringing a CSA program to your school or workplace. It can improve employees' nutritional intake, and boost employee enthusiasm around the topic of healthy eating as well. In the meantime, find a local CSA and join today!





 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is a sustaining supporter of VT FEED.

Taste of the Season
Green Monster Pops from New School Cuisine
Image: Flickr user kaylacasey

Beat the August heat with these nutritious, kid-friendly frozen treats!

Ingredients (50 servings)
Pineapple - 3 medium
Bananas - 6 medium
Chopped spinach - 3 cups
Chopped kale - 1 1/2 cups
Water - 2 cups


1. Peel pineapple. Cut into quarters and cut out core. Chop.
2. Peel bananas.
3. Puree spinach, kale, bananas and pineapple in a blender. Add water and puree again.
4. Pour into small paper cups or popsicle molds and insert treat sticks.
5. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours.

Get the book!

More nutritious and delicious recipes in our New School Cuisine: Nutritious and Seasonal Recipes For School Cooks, By School Cooks. Browse or download for free online, or order a copy today!

Upcoming Vermont Farm to School Events


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