In mid-July, Fiona Jensen-Hitch spent two years in the Wildcat community garden in Colombia’s Allies, researching and using fruit trees as a learning tool.
“I like programs from farming to school and I think kids are starting to get better,” says Jensen-Hitch. “Children can please their parents and bring home recipes. In this way they make people enjoy food. ”
Jensen-Hitch completed a two-year stay at Montana Food Corporation, a national nonprofit volunteer in the United States, focusing on creating a healthy school dining environment with hands-on nutrition and cooking lessons. Winning cafeteria programs.
According to the Montana Food Corporation website, during the two-year period 2017-18, Montana Food Corporation members engaged with 800 volunteers in the local community, producing 29 schools and community gardens for 5,600 pounds of food and buying around 36,000 pounds. School Restaurants.
Fifteen years later, however, FoodCorps is declining its national footprint and this year is launching seven schools in Montana, as well as all stations in Hawaii and North Carolina, to run schools through gardening and education programs.
After launching a farm-to-table program at the University of Montana, Chrisc McMulan founded FoodCorps in Montana.
The Montana Food Corps model was developed in 2011 as part of the Federal Ameri Corporation Service Network in 10 states out of 10 states.
In a statement to Beacon, Macmillan, who has not been involved in the program for six years, said: I am sorry that National Rehabilitation is no longer available, but I hope that the spirit of Montana can be revived to maintain a healthy, environmentally friendly diet for Montana children.
In the early years of FoodCorps, as a national program, one of Montana’s stations was a joint program between North Shore Compact, Kaisse Prery, Lake Hexard, Summer and Bigfork.
“I’m really sorry to hear that FoodCorps is over,” said Amy Piazozola, superintendent of the Case Prere School District. “I think my favorite thing about FoodCorps is that it helped them get a fresh lunch program at the school, show off the harvest of the month, and bring a better understanding of the food to our students. It was such a blessing. ”
Sue McGregor, a family and consumer science teacher at Bigfork Elementary School, saw the success of the program in Ronnan and learned to become a FoodCorps station in 2012.
“We believed in teaching their children where their food came from and we wanted to build within the school structure,” said McGregor. “We had a gardening and food club, and the students thought it was a good idea to build a garden. We didn’t think the goal of production was possible, but we wanted to focus on the curriculum. ”
Bigfork built a student-designed garden in 2012, and from 2013-2018, four different members of the FoodCorps Service helped take care of the garden while teaching nutrition and gardening lessons in the classroom.
“There is something magical about growing up in our own food and flowers,” says McGregor. They love it.
Each section of the BigFork Garden has 10 high beds that provide the opportunity to create a theme, what to plant and to implement in the curriculum.
According to McGregor, kindergartens have learned how to grow pumpkins and grow seeds, and this year, first-graders planted a vegetable soup with onions, sesame, carrots and potatoes.
“A garden can serve as an outdoor classroom and can be tied to almost any educational setting,” he said. Growing a school garden encourages the community, teaches children where food comes from and brings it naturally, and encourages them to try new foods and improve their diet.
At Kaisse Prery, the school has assigned a part-time gardener to focus on the program, and all teachers are encouraged to teach food science lessons and stay active in the garden. In addition, there is a community greenhouse gardening committee that helps two FoodCorps members help raise money and make it a reality.
“Our FoodCorps members have brought energy education and thinking that we don’t want to go,” said Piazola. We took the time to make sure that what we started continues to be sustainable.
In 2013, the school district of Columbia built a garden next to the young man in 2013 and became a FoodCorps site a few years later.
Jensen-Hich, the fourth member of the station, began working in all Columbia in 2019. When she arrived, the garden was growing and half of it was recently planted as a test 47-tree garden.
“He really started producing my first year, this is very exciting,” said Jensen-Hich. I already know that I will be in my second year.
For the second year of Jensen-Hitch, much of her focus was working with the local nonprofit Nourish the Flathead (FHNF), which is working to make fresh food available to everyone in the Flatad Valley. With the departure of FoodCorps in Montana, FHNF will host the program in the Wildcat Garden and offer summer camps for local children.
“In three years’ time, as an organization, we will be more agricultural-oriented,” FNF Education Coordinator Whitney Pratt said.
Pratt has previously worked with FoodCorps for two years at the Northhorn Compact site – one of the members responsible for launching the Casey Premier Greenhouse – and is an advocate for any partnership to maintain school gardens and educational programs at the front and center.
Pratt argues that educating teachers and working in the garden is difficult and not always lifelong. She added that the FNF partnership was fortunate when the Food Corporation announced the termination of the Montana program.
“One interesting part was that it made the financial corporation look like a financial decision and a public service decision,” said Jensen-Hich. “Montana talks like he doesn’t serve a very different people, that’s not true. We are a state with a large indigenous population, and they are from Arizona [last year], Which is the same. ”
Montana Food Corps has established stations for a number of Native American communities, including Polson, Rona and Hardin, as well as many rural and low-income communities.
“At the center of this decision is FoodCorps’ recognition of investing its resources in a more focused way to ensure the financial and operational sustainability, reflect its commitment to equality and strengthen its broad impact as an organization. Chief Executive Officer Kurt Ellis wrote in a statement to Beacon. “These reductions will enable the company to invest in strong support for local and BIPOC recruitment, alumni participation and policy advocacy to the extent of FoodCorps. These decisions allow FoodCorps to make the necessary investments in equity: ያደርጋል Continues to increase the living wages of FoodCorps service members.
The disappearance of members of the FoodCorps service is heard in schools and communities across the state, but McGregor, Piazola, Jensen-Hitch and Pratt believe they all have successful examples of how sites can transition from FoodCorps operations to local partnerships or school programs. .
“If there is no farm-to-school champion in the school, if there is no one to actively fight and support him, he will go alone,” Pratt said. “We want to make sure that children get a long-term diet. To make sure that carrots grow in the ground, they need a garden.
To learn about volunteerism and donation opportunities in local Valley-to-School programs in the Valley, visit the Bigfork Garden Fundraising page, and take care of Flathead.