Ensuring that students have the nutrition they need to be prepared for learning is important and students at Mt. Pilchuck Elementary School got the opportunity to enjoy A Taste of Washington on Wednesday, September 26 where they enjoyed fresh fruits and veggies from local farms.
Local dignitaries sat down and ate with the students as they tried some healthy choices including Mayor Vern Little, City Administrator Jan Berg, Senator Steve Hobbs, Superintendent Amy Beth Cook and one of the farmers from Carleton Farms.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and the Washington School Nutrition Association (WSNA) partnered with local schools, including Mt. Pilchuck, to feature Washington-grown foods in their school meals.
“We encourage students and school representatives to try a variety of locally grown foods, support growth and appreciation for Washington agriculture and enjoy Taste Washington Day,” said Tricia Kovacs, a WSDA outreach and education specialist. “Schools from Walla Walla to Bellingham are participating by partnering with farmers to serve the freshest foods during the current harvest.”
Pilchuck served up mouth-watering local fare, which included fresh baked cinnamon apple harvest bread made from apples out of Selah, Wash.
They also got to enjoy fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from Lake Stevens’ own Carleton Farms.
“We used to have gross food here, but now we have healthy vegetables like carrots and tomatoes,” Charlene Shannon, a fifth grader and leadership ambassador at Mt. Pilchuck said.
Shannon proudly named off all the veggies and explained where they came from including Carleton Farms, which many of the kids know.
Eating fresh pluots, a plum-apricot mix, was a first for many students.
They got to try broccoli, cauliflower, celery and salad greens from farms around the state.
Kids even got to mingle with a living carrot, strawberry, pea and pear – well, high school students dressed in costume anyway.
Local dignitaries were taken on a student-guided tour of Mt. Pilchuck’s Panther Giving Garden, which has provided local families with needed fresh vegetables throughout the summer.
In April students, staff and parents started the garden. They weeded, created raised beds, brought in compost and built a fence. In two weeks they were ready for early spring planting.
The garden has been going strong for over six months now and it is filled with sunflowers, tomatoes, green beans, eggplant, pumpkins and more.
“Lake Stevens has been a model for Farm to School programs all over the state,” Acacia Larson from the Washington Food and Farming Network said. “We want to teach kids about local food and where their meals come from. And it doesn’t get much more local than a garden right outside the school.”
For more information or to donate to the Panther Giving Garden please contact Linda Mauer at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in mentoring, teaching or supporting others in your community as they grow their own food please visit growinggroceries.wsu.edu/ggmentorintraining.htm.