K-5 Kids Get "Healthy Homework" for Farm To School Month

It is officially National “Farm to School” month, so we wanted to share some great work that one of our partners, TABLE is doing to get fresh and local food to children all year long - both through a backpack program and through their new “Healthy Homework” program (see press release below for details).

If you or someone you know is working with getting fresh local food to children and needs some tips, let us know.

Lots of folks worked together to get this going. Wednesday Carrboro Farmers’ Market farmers provides gleaned food every week. TABLE buys food from Farmer Foodshare’s POP Market and E.C.O. to supplement the gleaned food. Medi-Weightloss Clinics of Durham provides ongoing financial support to buy the local food and college mentors help teach the children how to use the food. In this new Healthy Homework program, the kids learn how to use the food, then take the recipes home to teach someone at their homes how to prepare it. This is a simple and inexpensive program and of all the groups we work with, this is where we’ve seen some of the biggest transformation. It’s also just plain fun.

Contact info@farmerfoodshare.org if you would like a copy of the toolkit, recipes or other items.

The Daily Tar Heel also wrote about the program in TABLE fuels healthy eating.

TABLE Assigns “Healthy Homework”

Program Combats Childhood Obesity, Hunger and Connects Parents and Children to Farm Fresh Food

CARRBORO – OCTOBER 4, 2012 – School children from low-income afterschool programs in Chapel Hill and Carrboro will take home more than spelling lists and math sheets. This fall, Carrboro-based nonprofit TABLE will be sending them home with “healthy homework” - snack recipes and fresh food sourced from local farms through Farmer Foodshare.

“In North Carolina, two thirds of all adults are overweight or obese. North Carolina ranks fifth worst in the country for childhood obesity and first in the country for childhood food insecurity for children under five years of age,” said Molly De Marco, a researcher with UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. “Combating hunger and obesity takes involvement from the entire family. This unique program encourages healthy eating year round, strengthens the local food system and provides families with a fun way to improve their health.”

This week, volunteers from TABLE brought fresh ingredients from local farms to the center and showed the kids how to make Striped Rollups with green peppers, arugula, cheese and tortillas. After watching the demonstration, the children made Striped Rollups themselves, and then took home the ingredients and “know-how” needed to prepare the snack for their families.

“I can’t wait to show this snack to my mom,” said one of the fourth graders at The Hargraves Center afterschool program. “She loves peppers!” The snack program, TABLE for Two, sends trained UNC-Chapel Hill students to low-income after-school programs in Orange County. TABLE focuses exclusively on local childhood hunger, distributing healthy food to Chapel Hill-Carrboro children each week, as well as providing UNC student mentors to encourage kids to make healthy eating choices.

“We hope these special snack sessions will grow kids’ familiarity with fresh produce and teach them what is available right in their own area,” said Joy MacVane, TABLE’s executive director. “TABLE helps children grow and thrive. This afterschool snack program empowers kids to teach their families to make healthy food choices.”

Kids Lead the Way

The fresh snack training program is based on an embedded learning model in which students watch something, do it on their own, and then teach another what they learned. In TABLE for Two, children watch their mentors make snacks from locally grown produce and then prepare the snack on their own. After the program, children are sent home with fresh ingredients from local farms to make and share the snack with their families.

“It’s so much fun watching the kids get excited about fresh and healthy food,” said Ashton Chatham, Program Director at TABLE. “You always hear that kids don’t like fresh vegetables. We sure don’t see that here! They really get into the snacks and they love the fresh food we give them each week.”

Local Farms Support “Healthy Homework”

TABLE receives fresh produce from local North Carolina farmers through a partnership with nonprofit Farmer Foodshare. The organization links farm-grown food to growing children through its Farm to Children program. Farmers from Carrboro Farmers Market provide TABLE with weekly donations of gleaned fresh produce as well as discounted produce specifically for snacks.

“We are delighted to support this innovative program,” said Margaret Gifford, Founder and Executive Director of Farmer Foodshare. “TABLE understands how children learn about food and they know the power that healthy food can have in transforming children’s lives.”

About TABLE

“Healthy Homework” is part of the Table for Two Healthy Eating Program, one of several hunger relief programs sponsored by TABLE.

TABLE is a non-profit hunger-relief organization focusing exclusively on local childhood hunger. Each week, TABLE puts healthy food, including farm fresh produce, directly into the hands of Chapel Hill and Carrboro elementary school-age children who would otherwise go hungry on weekends and other times of the year when free school meals are unavailable. It brings together UNC students and community members to provide food to local hungry kids and raise awareness of local childhood hunger. During the 2011/2012 school year, TABLE sent home more than 45,000 pounds of food to hungry Chapel Hill-Carrboro children. Please visit www.tablenc.org or email tablenc@gmail.com for more information.

Table pickling event - 7.13.2011 006.JPG

Children from TABLE learn pickling at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market

TableVegs.JPG

Bundles of local fresh and shelf-stable food waiting to go to children for the weekend backpack program.