10 Cents a Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms provides schools, early childhood education centers, and other eligible programs participating in USDA federal child nutrition programs with matching funds to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and dry beans. By participating in 10 Cents a Meal grantees source and serve Michigan-grown food, promote and market them, and also conduct educational activities to teach the children they serve about food, nutrition, and gardening. This story, written by Jen Schaap of Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities highlights East Jordan Public Schools, a 10 Cents a Meal grantee making huge strides with their food, gardening, and nutrition education programs.
By Jen Schaap, first appeared on groundworkcenter.org
The public school system of East Jordan is a small but mighty player when it comes to building a culture of nutritious food for students.
The district’s ongoing collaborations with Groundwork, FoodCorps, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, and other community partners have helped farm to school advocates expand a small school garden from just four small beds tucked away down a back corridor to nearly an acre of learning and growing space. From salad bars and scratch cooking in the cafeteria to Harvest of the Month programs and Indigenous Foodways curriculum, East Jordan Public Schools has quickly become a leader in Michigan’s farm to school movement.
Learning how to grow vegetables helps instill lifelong understanding of healthy food and cultivate healthy food habits.
Now East Jordan wants to take it a step further and overhaul the entire community garden area, allowing staff to use it more effectively year round and incorporate new schoolwide components.
The middle school’s Shoe Club has taken on the garden overhaul, naming it “EJ Seed to Salad.” Through grants, presentations to local businesses, a bowl-a-thon, and a GoFundMe online giving campaign, students hope to raise $75,000. The project list includes:
- Revitalize an indoor growing space
- Improve the outdoor garden area to better serve as an outdoor classroom
- Install a hoop house for a larger and more cost-efficient growing space
- Install a composting system, reducing food waste from the cafeterias in both the elementary and middle-high schools
“This project, when we get it fully funded, will also give an example for other schools to do the same thing when they see that we’re successful,” explains Elke Knauf, a student and member of EJ’s Shoe Club (which, by the way, successfully implemented the EJ Solar Spark project last year, installing 30 kW solar array on the middle-high school).
Watch the student-made promotional video below!
The students hope to break ground on Earth Day, April 22! To learn more about the garden project and see mock-ups of what the garden will look like, visit the EJ Shoe Club website.