Farm To School Programs Introducing Healthier Lifestyles To Northern Michigan Schools

“Purple, red, yellow, orange, green,” explained Marshall Collins, the school health coordinator a the TBAISD.

Seeing the rainbow – and tasting the rainbow.

“So it’s the different colors of vegetables and fruits and how they help out your body and how they complement each other,” he said.

Lake City Elementary School teaches students at Lake City, Northport, and Buckley schools how to live healthier lifestyles.

“They made a rainbow salad and they were learning about taste the rainbow,” said Collins.

First – learning the proper cutting technique.

“He cut it in half and we had to put the straight part down so it wouldn’t roll,” said Addison Seger.

Next they taste the food and it gets an almost unanimous “thumbs up.”

Another crowd-pleaser – the infused water.

“I didn’t know you can put that much fruit in like water and make it taste like that,” said James Vanderbrook. “It kind of tasted like mostly strawberries.”

The program is funded by the USDA and SNAP-Ed, but it’s fueled by these fourth graders who are loving getting a head start on their health.

“You plant that seed — no pun intended — with fruits and vegetables, you plant that seed and that’s something that follows them throughout life,” said Collins.

Another lesson they try to teach is that food doesn’t have to come out of a package.

All this food started right here in Northern Michigan.

It’s part of the farm to school program at the TBAISD.

“We take a look at how fresh food are healthy for you better for you and how easy it is to put together a dish or recipe,” said Steve Urbanski, the Farm To School coordinator.

A class not just for students — but their families, too.

“It’s a great way to bring parents and children together, we get so busy working and doing things you don’t get quality time to do something like this,” explained one of the mothers, Nancy Stoessel.

The students learn about different types of vegetables.

They learned that weird texture, doesn’t have to mean weird taste.

They learned how to deconstruct a whole chicken — and what seasonings pair well with it.

“Pretty amazing — I didn’t know how to do that before,” said Stoessel.

And the lesson doesn’t stop there.

“We learned how to read a food label the changes that are coming out in the food labels for nutrition so we can better gauge what’s going in our bodies,” she explained.

After sitting down and tasting the meal together…

They’re able to taste the change they’ll start making in their diets.

“In this environment it’s different than being at home and mommy saying ‘try this vegetable’ because they’re going to say no,” she said.

At the end of class —  families head home with a meal — and a new skill set.

“They taught us how to do it, let us taste, and now they’re sending it home with us so we can take what we’ve learned and use it at home,” she said.

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