Healthy School Snacks

Healthy School Snacks

­Each day in kindergarten and first grade at every elementary school in Floyd County comes ‘snack time.’ Most children bring something to munch on from home.  But a few don’t.  Maybe they forgot or their parents forgot.  Maybe the family budget doesn’t include snacks.  But it’s no fun to sit at your desk with nothing when everyone around you has enough. So, Plenty! decided to make a change.  Now every elementary school has a supply of snacks that a teacher can use for students  who are empty-handed.  Plenty! provides granola bars or cheese and crackers then re-supply as needed throughout the year.  Plenty! is grateful that donations continue to flow in  so that they can say, “Yes!” when partners ask for help.

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Community Update on School Food Initiatives

Community Update on School Food Initiatives

More than 50 people gathered at the Floyd Country Store to learn and talk about the role of locally sourced food in nutrition and public school cafeterias during a SustainFloyd event. SustainFloyd partners with a series of other community organizations to carry out programs that promote healthy nutrition, the use of locally grown food in public schools and education about how food gets from farms to the dinner table.

Article in The Burg

Article in The Burg

The community  learned about programs in Floyd County that are happening due to the work of SustainFloyd, Plenty!, the Floyd County Healthy Community Team, the Floyd County Multi-Disciplinary Team, New River Valley Community Services and other partners.

As part of the event, SustainFloyd honored and paid tribute to staff in Floyd County’s public school cafeterias. They work hard to feed the stomachs of our community’s children so that teachers can feed their minds. That week the Floyd County Multi-Disciplinary team delivered fresh fruit baskets to all of the school cafeteria workers as a token of thanks.

SustainFloyd showed the documentary, Cafeteria Man. “We hoped the movie would bring awareness to the importance of our school cafeterias in the health of our children and the challenges faced within our current system,” said Mike Burton, director of SustainFloyd. “Floyd is in many ways ahead of most communities and we wanted to highlight these programs and recognize the hard work of those feeding our children.”

Eco Top Chef

Eco Top Chef

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Dr. Harris, Superintendent of Floyd County Public Schools, tries a dish prepared by the high school culinary art students.

In 2013 Plenty!’s VISTA volunteer Alexis Bressler, piloted an “Eco Top Chef” Project at Floyd County High School to motivate students to learn more about local food systems. Guest speakers presented on local farms, businesses and food pantries and students tried an exercise to see how far grocery store tomatoes travel. School Nutritionist, Pam Harris, spoke about the financial and nutritional guidelines for school lunches. The Culinary Arts students then competed to create a lunch that conformed to school guidelines while being tasty, nutritious and using some local ingredients. With high school staffers and community volunteers serving as judges, students presented a wonderful array of dishes from carrot cake to kale soup. Teacher Laura Cantrell was so impresed with the program that she expects to present it again soon. We will see what the budding chefs can create next time!

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Portable Produce

Portable Produce

Gardeners love sharing their produce and neighbors love receiving them. Plenty! helps bring them together. If your garden is growing more than you can use just drop off your surplus at Plenty! Plenty! has coolers to keep things fresh until they can be delivered directly to folks who don’t have transportation.

Folks love recapturing the flavors of gardens they used to grow with the fresh produce we bring. This year almost twenty ‘veggie visitors’ are bringing food and chatting on the porches of about seventy families.

Plenty! is grateful to all the farmers and gardeners of Floyd County for all of their support!

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School Gardens

School Gardens

School garden at Floyd Elementary

School garden at Floyd Elementary

School gardens are a fun and effective way to help children learn about the growing process of plants and where vegetables come from. In 2009 Plenty! established a garden at Floyd Elementary with the help of fifth grade teacher, Alice Hardin. Since then garden lessons have been taught to fifth graders and kindergarteners.

In 2011 a garden was begun at Willis Elementary with Lisa Bolt. Now Willis kindergarten, first and second graders have joined in the fun. Students get to participate in planting, growing and harvesting lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard and more. Lessons are planned to reinforce standards of learning about what plants need to grow, their stages of development and the parts of a plant. Students also practice measurement and communication skills. Tastings help students become more familiar with eating various vegetables like “lettuce boats” and broccoli trees.

Jennifer Bunn has had great success leading the garden at Indian Valley Elementary. Jill Bishop, cafeteria manager at Indian Valley, uses many of the vegetables from the school garden when preparing meals for the students.

Check Elementary has begun construction on a school/community garden this year. In addition, Floyd County High School has started the FFA School Farm. Since research has shown that children who participate in school gardens are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, it is exciting that all of the public schools in Floyd County now have students growing and harvesting Floyd County produce!