Meet the Farmer Program Update!
Sustainable CAPE, following our mission to “celebrate local food while educating about its connection to the health of our bodies, community and environment”, has been awarded a 2 year USDA Grant to improve awareness of, access to, and affordability of local food on the Outer Cape.
Our organization was awarded this grant based upon a proposal to link schools to farmers markets and to coordinate a local food program – called the Meet the Farmer Program- in all Nauset Elementary Schools. Special thanks to Superintendent Tom Conrad who wrote a letter of support for our application and is enthusiastically supporting our work within the Nauset District schools!
The Meet the Farmer Program has been active this spring introducing elementary school children in each of the 5 district schools, plus the Truro and Provincetown elementary schools, to a local farmer/educator and to a variety of local produce.
Our current Farmer-in-the-School, Stephanie Rein, has a BA in education and plant science, will be managing the project and related education. Stephanie brings a level of knowledge and authenticity to the initiative as an active farmer who sells in local farmers’ markets.
The school visits have consisted of introducing children to several kinds of local greens (ranging from mild to spicy), sampling this produce, having fun learning about what can be grown on the Cape and meeting someone who grows food for a living.
In addition, families of school children receive backpack updates that informing parents about local farmers’ markets. These materials also clearly explain current nutrition incentive programs offered at the farmers’ markets. These programs are designed to increase affordability of local foods for those on SNAP (food stamps) and using WIC and Senior Discount Coupons. Several markets run “Doubling Programs” where up to $10 of SNAP, WIC or Senior Discount money will be doubled, effectively yielding $20 worth of Farmers’ Market tokens to spend on healthful local food!
Sustainable CAPE has created individualized presentations focused on the unique needs and opportunities in each different school.
The Farmer in the School program will continue to support and augment existing efforts in teaching about local food, and to help determine the most effective ways to engage children and families in support of the Cape’s physical, community and environmental health.