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November 15, 2019

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Grant Connects Food, Farms, Schools and Communities 

Healthy students are better learners. Research shows that eating habits and healthy behaviors are connected to academic achievement. - Center for Disease Control (CDC) Healthy Schools

Twenty school districts[1] in greater Stark County participated in a Farm to School grant for the 2018-19 school year. Prior research on Farm to School programs in Wisconsin revealed a positive impact on the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten by children who had low intake of fruits and vegetables at the baseline.[2] Students who normally did not eat a lot of fruit and vegetables showed an improvement.

To evaluate the effectiveness of our local Stark County Educational Service Center's Farm to School grant, feedback was collected throughout the year from food service staff, students and the community. Three main areas were addressed: cafeteria, classroom (curriculum) and community/family engagement.

Cafeteria: Eighty food service staff from participating districts provided data on comfort level, successful experiences and challenges to increasing the use of locally sourced ingredients in cafeteria meals. Most staff respondents (76%) said they have used more fresh fruit and vegetables in school lunches since learning about the Stark County Farm to School program in 2016. After squash was highlighted during Harvest of the Month, positive feedback included: "Loved the muffins for breakfast"; "Some of the kids thought it was good and were glad they tried it"; and "They hope we serve it again!" 

Classroom/CurriculumAs part of the Farm to School curriculum, more than 1,400 participating district 5th graders visited a dairy farm. Pre/post survey responses by students revealed a significant increase in students' understanding of what cows eat, how cows are milked and where milk is stored on the farm.

Community/Family EngagementParents of students from several school districts gave survey feedback on things like fruit/vegetable choices, home meal preparation and trying new foods. A large majority (86%) responded that they believe when people eat fresh, local fruits and vegetables, it helps them to be healthy.


[1] Participating districts: Alliance, Canton City, Canton Local, Dalton, Fairless, Jackson, Lake, Louisville, Marlington, Massillon, Minerva, Northwest, North Canton, Osnaburg, Perry, Plain, RG Drage, Sandy Valley, Strasburg-Franklin and Tuslaw.
[2] Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2014.
About the Partnership Long Header
The Stark Education Partnership - a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Stark County, Ohio -  is a catalyst, engaging and collaborating with education, business, civic and community stakeholders to drive sustainable improvement and innovation to provide all students with education and career success.  

 
Questions or comments? Email septpurses@gmail.com or call 330-452-0829. Visit our website at http://www.edpartner.org
Stark Education Partnership, 400 Market Avenue North - Suite B, Canton, OH 44702
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