Commissioner Scott Soares
Commissioner, Department of Agriculture Resources (DAR)
March may be National Nutrition Month, but 300 children in 12 Worcester kindergarten classrooms were already thinking about healthy local food since the start of the school year. The Kindergarten Initiative, in partnership with the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, is being piloted in four Worcester schools during the 2010-2011 academic year.
Building on Worcester’s long-standing commitment to serving local foods in school cafeterias, the program brings the concept of eating healthy into the classroom. Students study nutrition concepts, enjoy snacks made from local ingredients, go on farm tours, and participate in local food specialty events. The program aims to teach children to try new foods, learn about local agriculture, and experiment with new tastes, in hopes that they will continue to do so for years to come.
As part of an event featuring local cheeses from Westfield Farm in Hubbardston and Smith’s Country Cheese in Winchendon, the children sampled five cheeses including a goat cheese made with chocolate! This event helped children learn about where food comes from by connecting the dots between the cows they had seen, milk they drink, and cheese they love.
Another lesson featured local yogurt flavored with local maple syrup from Sidehill Farm in Ashfield. Students took several cartons home to share with their families. Families are provided with local food and produce packages throughout the year so that they can experience new foods together around the dinner table. Parents, grandparents, and siblings are invited to attend demonstrations given by local chefs and specialty food producers. Chef demonstrations focus on nutrient dense meals that can be prepared quickly, and cost effectively at home. By involving family members, students are more likely to enjoy healthy, local foods at home.
One classroom recently read the book, “City Mouse Country Mouse,” before taking a farm tour. When they arrived at Breezy Gardens Farm in Leicester, they climbed off of the bus and into a grassy pasture and saw first-hand where a country mouse might live! One child even asked a farmer, identified in the lunchroom as the man who grew his apple, for an autograph. It’s great to see our local farmers becoming heroes to a new generation of locavores in the making!
More information about the Kindergarten Initiative can be found by contacting the Massachusetts Farm to School Office at email@example.com.
Be sure to visit The Great Outdoors blog for information about healthy outdoor activities like fishing, maple sugaring or canoeing going on this spring across Massachusetts.
Weekly Flu Report, November 27, 2015 posted on Nov 27
Rates of flu-like illness remain at low levels in the Commonwealth, according to the latest weekly flu report. We can expect these numbers to rise in the weeks and months ahead, however, so now’s the time to get your flu shot if you haven’t done …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, November 27, 2015
Preventing Sharps Injuries among Healthcare Workers: 15 Years and Counting posted on Nov 23
“Since passage of the Massachusetts Act to Relative to Needlestick Injury Prevention, measurable progress has been made, but significant work remains in our efforts to eradicate preventable sharps injuries. Unfortunately, healthcare workers continue to bear the brunt of the burden of these potentially life-changing exposures. …Continue Reading Preventing Sharps Injuries among Healthcare Workers: 15 Years and Counting
Eat Well by Eating Smart this Thanksgiving! posted on Nov 23
By Terri Mendoza and Gina Davin Thanksgiving is a time for food, thanks, love, family, friends, and more food. As wonderful as this time of year is, unfortunately it’s easy to get carried away with all of the holiday specialties and end up eating more …Continue Reading Eat Well by Eating Smart this Thanksgiving!