This April, we celebrated potatoes as the Harvest of the Month with a delicious taste test: smashed red bliss potatoes! We used local red bliss potatoes from Swaz Potato Farms. Click on the button below to try the recipe at home!
Our Salad Days planting is well underway for the 2019 season! This spring, students from Bowe, Streiber, Stefanik, Litwin, and Lambert-Lavoie elementary schools will plant lettuce in their school gardens. This lettuce will be harvested by the students in June, and then they will enjoy it in the cafeteria the next day. Our philosophy is, "if they grow it, they'll eat it!" so we love offering students this seed to fork experience.
Planting days are led by a team consisting of Farm to School Coordinator, Greta Shwachman, and the district's two FoodCorps service members, Kelly Zimmerhanzel and Anna Plewa. The team greets each class, and then divides them into two groups. One group heads straight to the garden to get their hands dirty, and the other plays a game. Halfway through, the groups switch, so everyone gets a turn to plant and have a "veggie dance party"!
The planting process is organized and efficient, which allows each class to come through the garden in only 15 minutes! (We wish it could be longer, but this short time frame seems to work well for school staff). Students are assigned a square in the garden (each class gets 16 sq ft) and then are tasked with (1) making a "tractor claw" and loosening up the soil, (2) drawing 4 lines in their square, (3) pinching and sprinkling lettuce seeds into their 4 lines, and (4) gently covering up their seeds and saying "goodnight"! We end by having the students do a "farmer clap" to get the dirt off their hands before going back in the building. (Shout out to former FoodCorps member, Jordyn Kessler, for coming up with that one <3).
We can't wait for June to see our lettuce all grown up and ready to harvest. A big thanks to Mother Nature for taking care of watering all our newly planted seeds!
**If you are a parent or community member interested in volunteering with us to bring Salad Days to more schools, please email Greta at email@example.com. Thank you!**
FoodCorps is a nation-wide team of Americorps leaders working to connect kids to healthy food in schools. Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting members of FoodCorps national staff for a special pilot program at Bowe Elementary School, where service member, Kelly Zimmerhanzel, tested out a "flavor" bar during lunch.
The project places a heavy emphasis on participatory research, and Kelly surveyed students both before and after the bar to gather input on flavors and format. In the end, the system that worked best was family style. Each table was given a variety of bottles and shakers to pass around and add flavor to their food. The flavors: pepper, garlic powder, ketchup, hot sauce, and adobo.
The consensus: it was a hit! Students were pumped up to have more autonomy in the lunchroom, and the school is considering rolling out the bar as a regular component of the lunch program. Way to go Kelly and the FoodCorps team!
Applications to join the Chicopee Community Garden for the 2019 growing season are now open and will be accepted on a rolling basis until the end of May! To apply, visit the Parks and Recreation office on Front Street to fill out an application and submit a $25 fee. No one will be turned away, so if you cannot afford the $25 fee, simply indicate you would like a fee waiver on your application. If you would prefer to mail your application, you can download an application by clicking the button below.
Each member of the community garden receives their own 6'x12' plot to grow in for the season (May - October). Seeds, growing advice, and other resources are provided to members as needed.
Members have access to a shed, which contains a hose and various garden tools.
Start your engines with school breakfast!
March 4 - 8 was National School Breakfast Week! We celebrated with prize giveaways and special guest appearances all week long! Check out the slideshow below for highlights from the week:
Why eat school breakfast?
We believe that a nutritious breakfast is crucial to a successful day of learning. Studies show that students who eat breakfast generally have healthier overall diets and a lower chance of being overweight or obese. Furthermore, skipping breakfast is linked with tardiness, absenteeism, and falling behind in school. When students go to class hungry, they are more likely to experience stomachaches, headaches, depression, and an inability to focus. Since starting breakfast in the classroom programming at our elementary schools, we have noticed a dramatic reduction in nurse's visits and an increase in student performance.
Because we are a CEP district, all students can eat a free breakfast every day. And due to a new state mandate, we will soon be offering breakfast after the bell in all 15 Chicopee schools, with a goal of at least 80% participation.
To learn more about school breakfast, check out this fact sheet from No Kid Hungry.
Our lunch menus have now moved over to the brand new Chicopeeps website! We are no longer using Nutrislice, so if you are looking for menus there or on the app, you will not find the latest information. We apologize for any inconvenience, but hope you will enjoy the ease of having the menus right on our Food Service page.
Join a passionate team of Americorps leaders who are working to connect students to healthy food in schools! FoodCorps is currently accepting applications for their 2019-2020 service term. Our Chicopee FoodCorps members each serve in two elementary schools leading hands-on lessons in the classroom and garden, hosting monthly taste tests with local foods, and engaging community members and partner organizations around the topics of nutrition and food access. You could be the next leader who takes on the challenge of creating healthier school food environments in Chicopee! Apply now to serve up change HERE!
Hi everyone, my name is Melanie and I’m the new food service director for Chicopee Public Schools. I’m so excited to be a part of the ChicopeeFRESH team and I can’t wait to continue providing our students with well-balanced meals and fresh, local foods. I grew up here in Chicopee so the hometown connection is strong, and I’m so proud of how far our school food service program has already come. I’m a registered dietitian and was lucky enough to be placed here during my dietetic internship, where I got to learn the nuts and bolts of the farm to school program. I’m also a mom to twin 6 year olds, so I’m looking forward to sharing my love of nutrition with the kids of Chicopee.
We're thrilled to have Melanie on the team. Right now she is working on bringing Breakfast After the Bell to all Chicopee schools. Check her out talking to 22 News about breakfast here!
By Kelly Zimmerhanzel, FoodCorps Service Member
If you’ve paid any attention to diet trends over the last few years, you have no doubt heard of juice cleanses or juicing. Celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to Kim Kardashian have been touting the benefits of juice cleanses for years. But what is a juice cleanse and why are celebrities so obsessed with them? According to Medical News Today, “a juice cleanse is a type of diet that involves consuming only juices from vegetables and fruits in an attempt to lose weight and detoxify the body.” It’s tempting to go for this quick fix, to believe that drinking nothing but juice for a few days will make up for years of eating processed junk foods, but that’s not really how the body works. Here are five reasons not to try a juice cleanse this year:
1. Juice cleanses are not an effective way to lose weight.
You may lose a few pounds while on a juice cleanse, but only because you aren’t consuming enough calories. Even if you do lose some weight, there is a good chance you won’t be able to keep it off, especially if you don’t make any other changes to your normal diet after the cleanse. In fact, there is evidence that a juice cleanse may actually cause you to gain weight rather than lose it and could be dangerous if you have diabetes. According to Harvard Medical School, “Excessive intake of juice may cause weight gain and be dangerous for people with diabetes because juice is a concentrated source of calories and sugar.” If you think they are referring only to store-bought juices with added sugar, think again. Even juice with no added sugar has natural sugar from the fruit, but juicing strips the fruit of fiber which your body needs to properly process all that sugar.
2. There is no scientific evidence that juice cleanses detoxify your body.
Many juice cleanses claim that they will rid your body of toxins, but that’s nothing more than a marketing scheme. The human body already detoxifies itself using the liver, colon, and kidneys, so this claim is just straight up bogus.
3. Juice cleanses are expensive.
A standard 3-day juice cleanse can cost anywhere between $60 and $200. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could justify spending what I might spend on groceries in a week or a month on 3 days of being miserable drinking nothing but juice.
4. Juice can’t provide your body with all the things it needs.
First, juicing removes the fiber from fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps keep you full and helps your gut work properly, so it’s pretty important, especially when you need to digest all that sugar in fruit. Second, according to Harvard Medical School, “Juices don't have protein, which keeps us full and helps maintain muscle mass for a healthy weight.” Third, juices don’t have fats, which our bodies also need to function properly. You may be able to last a few days on a juice cleanse without any lasting negative effects, but you’re not doing your body any favors either.
5. Juice just isn’t as good for you as whole fruits and veggies.
According to Harvard Medical School, “Juicing removes the skin and insoluble fiber of fruits and vegetables. The juice itself has a different nutritive value and may not have the same health benefits as whole fruits and vegetables.” Juice isn’t the worst thing for you, obviously drinking fruit or vegetable juice is preferable to not consuming fruits or vegetables at all, but it isn’t as nutritious as whole fruits and vegetables. If you really want to consume all your fruits and veggies in liquid form, at least try making smoothies instead of juice. Smoothies contain the whole fruit or vegetable, meaning that you are still getting all the good stuff from the skin and the fiber.
So what should you do instead of a juice cleanse? Try incorporating more whole fruits and vegetables into your normal diet. I’ve always liked food writer Michael Pollan’s advice on how to improve your diet. He says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” So this year, instead of expecting some fad diet to solve all your problems, choose the road less traveled and try making lasting changes to your diet instead. You may find it’s not as hard and much more rewarding than you thought.
We're two years into our partnership with the Chicopee Public Library and going strong! We recently wrapped up our fall programming, including a teen pumpkin carving contest, leafy greens-themed celebration, and root exploration. These events take place after school and are a great way for our farm to school team to engage with students and parents outside of the classroom.
At our recent "Root Exploration" event, children and their families got to participate in a variety of fun activities including a smoothie taste test, root matching game, posey poetry, seed observation station, and pin the nose on the snowman. We also made root view planter boxes and planted radish seeds so that participants can watch them grow "underground."
Our next event will take place on Monday, January 28th from 3:30 - 4:30 pm in the Kid's Room. We hope you'll join us for some veggie "engineering"! To download the rest of the 2018-2019 "Fun with Food" Calendar, click the button below!
The ChicopeeFRESH team is a group of creative individuals who are working to feed Chicopee students healthy, local and FRESH foods each day.