SHENANDOAH VALLEY, Va. (WVIR) - Project Grows was awarded a $100,000 grant to bring local food to area schools. The two-year initiative includes agricultural education in Staunton and Waynesboro public schools and on the Project Grows farm in Verona.
Representatives say so much of what they do is working with kids in person, but the pandemic has made that challenging.
“Typically we would be in the cafeteria handing out produce, handing out vegetable tastings through our harvests of the month program and we can’t do that,” said Project Grows Director of Education Nichole Barrows. “So we’re trying to think creatively about how we can do that in the fall.”
Project Grows Director of Food Access Megan Marshall expects to provide all of the key components of the grant despite COVID-19.
“I think this COVID world that we’re living in has provided us with the unique opportunity,” she said. “To think outside the box and kind of figure out how far garden education can go when you can’t be in the garden physically with the kids.”
Project Grows has taken their education online and continues to assist the schools in getting local food to children.
Project GROWS Awarded $100,000 from USDA to Connect Schools and Local Foods
JULY 8, 2020
Project GROWS is pleased to announce the recent award of $100,000 for Farm to School Initiatives from the Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.
Connecting Schools to Local Foods Initiative by Project GROWS is a two-year, farm-to-school initiative that includes agricultural education such as in-school tastings of local, seasonal produce; curriculum integration of local food concepts; and place-based experiential learning in school gardens and farm contexts. The award will also support work to expand procurement of local foods into school systems through networking with local growers and suppliers.
Nichole Barrows, Director of Education at Project GROWS says, “This award elevates our work to a strategic, cross-curriculum and multi-age initiative. This award supports partnerships with schools to integrate local food education and food access from preschool through grade 12.”
“We want to recognize Amanda Warren, Director of Nutrition Services and Dr. Jelisa Coltrane Wolfe, Executive Director of Student Services, Dixon Educational Center, Staunton City Schools as well as Tammy Coffey, School Nutrition Supervisor of Waynesboro Public Schools. “These leaders bring expertise and passion to this initiative,” says Megan Marshall, Director of Food Access at Project GROWS.
“We believe that the garden is an ideal setting to create a safe and inspiring space for youth supporting their physical, mental, and social well-being, says Clara Metzler, Associate Director of Farm Operations at Project GROWS. " We know that kids who have a hand in growing their own vegetables in the garden LOVE to eat them! Bringing fresh local produce into our local school systems combined with nutrition education is helping to grow a new generation of engaged and healthy youth,” says Metzler.
Project GROWS is a farm-based, nonprofit, public health, education and food access advocacy organization serving the Central Shenandoah Valley.
More information about Project GROWS can be found at projectgrows.org