If you’ve ever visited one of our cafeterias, you may have noticed some beautiful signs promoting fruits and veggies. These posters are part of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project's Harvest of the Month campaign, which aims to "encourage healthy food choices by increasing students’ exposure to seasonal foods while also supporting local farmers and building excitement about school meals.” To support this campaign, Chicopee menus are designed to feature the Harvest of the Month selection several times during the month. Furthermore, thanks to the efforts of our FoodCorps Service Member, Greta Shwachman, students will now get to participate in monthly taste tests, where they can try new recipes with the featured fruit or vegetable.
This past month, Greta held taste tests at two elementary schools--Litwin and Stefanik--as well as at Chicopee Comprehensive High School. Beginning next month, she will also conduct taste tests with students at Lambert-Lavoie. Taste tests are a great opportunity for students to try new foods that they might not typically select from the serving line. Studies show that kids may need to try new foods up to ten times before they accept them, so the more exposure to healthy foods, the better!
For her first taste tests, Greta prepared baked pears using local Bosc pears from Joe Czajkowsi Farms in Hadley, MA. Many students seemed to love the recipe, standing up with their empty sample cups to shout, "it's delicious!" or enthusiastically giving a thumbs up. The most inspiring moments were when students declared they didn't like pears, but changed their minds after tasting them (which happened quite a bit). There were certainly students who weren't as enthused about the pears, but we reminded them to politely say "no thank you" instead of using words like "ew" or "disgusting." A great saying to teach students is "don't yuck my yum." This teaches kids not to disrespect the food choices of others. It was clear from the taste tests that when one student tried a sample and loved it, more students were willing to try it. By the same token, if kids spit it out and call it gross, other students will be less likely to try the sample, even if it's something they would really enjoy.
We are excited to be holding these monthly taste tests, and students seemed really excited about it too! Next month we will be taste testing a new kale salad, so be on the lookout for updates and photos on social media!
In case you're curious about what's in store for the rest of the school year, here are the Harvest of the Month foods for November through June.
November - Kale
December - Carrots
January - Apples
February - Butternut Squash
March - Dairy
April - Potatoes
May - Seeds and Seedlings
June - Strawberries
Parents and students, look for the Harvest of the Month newsletter with your next menu! The newsletter is a great resource that includes recipes, tips, and fun facts!
Back in June, fourth graders at all eight Chicopee Elementary Schools germinated pumpkin seeds in their classrooms as part of a contest to see which student could grow the heaviest pumpkin. Students then brought their pumpkins home over the summer, where they learned lessons in gardening, plant cycles, and most importantly, perseverance. Our hope at ChicopeeFRESH is that by directly engaging in the growing process, students gain an appreciation for local farming efforts and take a more vested interest in their food choices.
It's safe to say that the students were pretty excited about growing pumpkins. Here are some notable quotes from our contest entry forms:
I feel good about growing a seed because its cool seeing it grow and change each month.
Growing a pumpkin is hard work and dirty. It is awesome growing a pumpkin!!!
My experience was so cool it felt like the whole world was swirling.
This is my first time growing a pumpkin and I'm excited because I get to try something new.
For eighteen fifth graders across seven Chicopee elementary schools, the summer's hard work and excitement paid off this Thursday and Friday when we finally weighed the pumpkins and awarded prizes. The first place winner at each school received a brand new bike, and the runner up scored a $25 Visa gift card. All participants received vouchers for a free ice cream cone at McCray's Farm in South Hadley, MA.
The 2015 Chicopee Pumpkin Growing Contest results are as follows:
Bowe: 1st - Eric Martins (8.4lbs), 2nd - Janelli Beltran (3.72lbs), 3rd - Geno McGahee (2.92lbs)
Litwin: 1st - Avery Wajda (8.53lbs), 2nd - Alex Jovan (5.28lbs), 3rd - Selena Mokan (2.41lbs),
4th - Jan Michael Torres (0.08lbs)
Barry: 1st - Trey Terlik (8.57lbs)
Lambert-Lavoie: 1st - Emily Boyer (6.72lbs), 2nd - Izabella LaFond (5.06lbs), 3rd - Blaize Mack (3.25lbs), 4th - Gracie Martineau (1.90lbs)
Streiber: 1st - Luke Theroux (9.47lbs), 2nd - Zachary Breault (6.55lbs), 3rd - Sofia Gonzalez (0.99lbs)
Fairview: 1st - Cody McCollaum (1.78lbs)
Bowie: 1st - Trinity Tardy (8.91lbs), 2nd - Frank Manegio (0.88lbs)
Congratulations to all of our winners! We are so proud of all of your hard work and perseverance throughout the contest!
ChicopeeFRESH is happy to announce that we will be hosting the Chicopee Pumpkin Growing Contest again in 2016! Stay tuned for more updates!
Check out the slideshow below for pictures of all of our participants and winners! Great job everybody!
On Monday October 5th, the Uncle Ben’s Food Truck stopped at Chicopee Comprehensive High School as part of a 6-month national tour that kicked off at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference back in July.
Chicopee Food Service Director Joanne Lennon, who attended the National Conference, saw the Uncle Ben’s Food Truck as a perfect opportunity to market healthy recipes to high school students.
The tour, promoting the slogan “Healthier Meals Begin With Ben,” aims to promote Uncle Ben’s 100% Whole Grain Brown Rice as a base for healthy meals in schools and at home.
At Chicopee Comp, Uncle Ben’s Thai Pineapple Fried Rice recipe got an added healthy boost from ChicopeeFRESH, with the addition of local onions, carrots, and green peppers fresh from the farm, ordered especially for the occasion.
Students lined up to try the fried rice, and many were enthusiastic about the recipe, stating that they would be very interested in purchasing the rice if it were made an option in the cafeteria. Others were less enthused, but you can’t win em all!
Overall it was a great day and we loved working with Uncle Ben’s to serve students local vegetables in a new recipe! You can check out local news coverage of the event here!
The ChicopeeFRESH team is a group of creative individuals who are working to feed Chicopee students healthy, local and FRESH foods each day.