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Farm to School Month shines a Bright Light on CMSD Nutrition Plans

 

CMSD NEWS BUREAU

10/16/23

CMSD students frequently speak about their school lunch concerns. Their voices are being heard.

October serves as both National Farm-to-School Month and National Apple Month, and scholars of Almira PreK-8 Academy are among a growing number of CMSD schools now enjoying the fresh fruit and vegetable lunch options they have been provided.

With daily access to a colorful salad bar, students can experience an assortment of locally grown, garden-fresh vegetables. Students are also introduced to valuable lessons on how their foods are cultivated and the nutritional values they hold.

Student enjoys Gala apple during 'Apple Crunch'

“Celebrating Farm-to-School Month helps us bring more attention to fresh, locally grown foods,” says Bob Gorman, CMSD Executive Director of School Nutrition. “Locally grown foods are great for the local economy, farms, and the foods just simply taste better,” he added.

Executive Director Gorman recently planned and hosted a meeting of federal and state nutrition officials.  The meeting was designed to raise awareness about school nutrition and to introduce students to an array of healthy food choices while enjoying school lunch.

Observing students as they carefully made their salad selections during a recent lunch period, Samia Hamdan, Midwest Regional Office Division Director of Child Nutrition stated, “It’s wonderful to see the wide variety of fruits and vegetables on display. And it’s also wonderful to see a USDA Farm-to-School grant being supported.”

Director Gorman joined students at Almira last Wednesday in a fun exercise designed to teach the children the valuable health benefits of an apple. The exercise was called the ‘Apple Crunch’ and the apples were provided by the Bauman Orchards.

Anticipation filled the lunchroom as scholars waited for the countdown, and held their Gala apples, waiting to take the first bite. But that bite couldn’t be taken before they learned of the apple's nutritious benefits.

“It is so welcoming and exciting to see our vision come to fruition,” says Robinette Simpkins, CMSD Director of School Nutrition. “To see students eating healthy, but also enjoying school lunch and being served foods that they are familiar with but may have never tried, is really moving.”

Turning to our local farming community for deeper insight into what it takes to provide fresh, local foods, Sarah Continenza, CEO of FoodStrong, prepared a berry-infused water, to compliment a flavorful salsa, in which she used freshly grown ingredients from the Coit Road Farmer’s Market.

“We are a food sovereignty organization, a community-focused garden,” said Continenza, “We are the only consistent fresh food retail access in East Cleveland. We meet the community where they are, and our goal is to make the food affordable and accessible.”

Located on four acres of land, Coit Road Farmer’s Market is the only open-air market incorporated into the city that makes itself available to share its resources with CMSD students. “We service 12 Cleveland schools,” said Continenza.  “We want to keep scholars around to give them the power they need to control their own health choices.”

CMSD's vision of student nutrition continues to evolve. With the support of the USDA, ODE, Food Core, and school cafeteria staff, students of CMSD can expect to receive nutritional knowledge as well as fresh, quality foods in their school lunch cafeterias.