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Have Your School Join the Local Food Week Celebrations

Ontario’s third annual Local Food Week is on the horizon! From June 6–12, the Ontario Edible Education Network is joining in the celebrations to promote the good things that are grown, made and harvested right here in Ontario.

Classrooms are the perfect place to get young people excited about local food, so we're encouraging schools to visit our Edible Education page for a variety of resources — curriculum packages, guides, toolkits — that offer exciting ideas about how to bring Local Food Week to your school.

Be sure to register your school and let us know how you celebrate with the #loveONTfood hashtag!

Advancing an Edible Education: Government Consultation on Experiential Learning Ending Soon

The Ontario Ministry of Education is seeking to expand experiential learning to provide students with a broader range of learning opportunities that are “connected to the community”.  The Government has initiated a consultation period and is seeking comments on the Future of Experiential Learning in Ontario until the end of May.

We have taken this opportunity to encourage Good Food Education as an integral part of that broader learning, highlighting the invaluable skills that students build through school gardening, cooking, visiting farms, and taking part in other hands-on food literacy‬ initiatives.

If you would like to join us in providing feedback and help advance an edible education in Ontario schools, be sure to offer your comments as soon as possible!

Getting Local Food in Durham Schools with Cafeteria Connects

How did the Durham District School Board get more local food into their school cafeterias? 

Check out this great video that takes a look at the Cafeteria Connects Program, a partnership between Ecosource, Chartwells Canada and the Durham District School Board.

Cafeteria Connects has worked to educate students about local food and has centered around a purchasing strategy of using "the big 6" Ontario produce items: apples, cucumbers, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, and carrots.

The project has involved training cafeteria staff on how to purchase, track, prepare, and communicate about local food options.

Jennifer Milne, Manager of Purchasing, Durham District School Board shares in the video: "This project is the benchmarck for local food initiatives, and it will be part of a continuous process of improvement where we look at our cafeterias and determine where we can provide other local food options."

While we're sharing inspiring school food videos, check out this TVO video on the Green Industries course at Don Mills CI, which takes a look at the power that school gardens can have on broader learning (these students are helping to grow food that is being used at a popular restaurant)!

Learning from Farm-to-School Pilot Projects

Tiffany Gartner-Duff, Resource Development Coordinator of the Ontario Student Nutrition Program - Southwest Region, has shared a lively story of Chatham-Kent's farm to school pilot project, which is now in 21 schools across Chatham-Kent.

Tiffany's blog post details how the project works, evaluation data, lessons learned, and next steps.

Stories and lessons learned from pilot projects like these are invaluable as we work toward getting more local, sustainable, and healthy food into Ontario schools. If you have a Farm to School story that you'd like to share with us, get in touch!

And if you're hungry for more farm-to-school models, be sure to check out the Headwaters Food & Farming Alliance Farm to School Pilot Project.  This is another fantastic initiative that is bringing local food (and farmers) into the area's schools.

Green Thumbs Grows Garden Buddies Mentorship Program

Garden Buddies Photo from Green Thumbs

Green Thumbs Growing Kids has launched an exciting new program this spring in 3 schools with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation: Garden Buddies.  

Garden Buddies is a mentorship program that pairs Kindergarteners with Upper-grade student mentors in their school gardens.

We're excited to hear more about this program as it develops into the spring and continues next fall. Check out some pictures and read more in the latest Green Thumbs newsletter

OFA Champions Food Literacy with Online Resource and Contest

Six by Sixteen, a food literacy website launched in March by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), is supporting young people to gain food literacy skills and to make healthier food choices. The aim of the Six by Sixteen initiative is for Ontario teenagers to know how to plan and prepare six nutritious meals by the time they are 16.

The website builds on the existing resources of more than 20 industry partners to provide information in three main areas: learn how to cook from a library of quick and simple how-to videos, find local food and make healthy food choices with Ontario-grown food.

The OFA hosted a special event to highlight the program on Wednesday, May 25, bringing the Six by Sixteen program into a Foods and Nutrition classroom at Thorold Secondary School.  The opportunity was used to launch the social media Photo My Food contest

To enter the contest, young people must find a recipe on the new SixbySixteen.me site, make it at home, take a picture of it, and then post the picture on the Photo My Food page for a chance to win an iPad mini.  Good luck to all those who enter!

Find Healthy Resources with NRC's Navigator Tool

The Nutrition Resource Centre (NRC) has a free online tool that may be of great use to many of our supporters promoting healthy eating and nutrition: the NRC Navigator.

The NRC Navigator allows you to search through a number of resources using key words. You can then save the resource or easily send it to others.

You can also filter through the resources by category, type, topic, setting, age, population, language and jurisdiction.

A Guide to School Gardens, Addressing Obesity in Children and Youth, and Eat Well Be Active Educational Toolkit are just a few of the resources you'll find!

This Year's Great Big Crunch Made a Loud Noise and Reached Parliament Hill

This year's Great Big Crunch (March 9), an initiative of FoodShare, was another great big success in classrooms and beyond across Canada, with #GreatBigCrunch rising to one of the top hashtags on Twitter.

This was also the first year that the event worked to gain the attention of federal politicians, as students crunched into apples with MPs on Parliament Hill - all in the name of celebrating and promoting healthy local snacks and the importance of student nutrition.

The Coalition for Healthy School Food was joined by around 80 children from two public schools in Ottawa who partook in the activities and were very excited to crunch with about 15 MPs.

We are thrilled to see the growth of this great event, and the involvement of political leaders! See you next year, crunchers.

Digging in to School Garden Day

Another springtime means another School Garden Day!

Congartulations to all of the teachers and students across the province who celebrated in another successful School Garden Day on May 20.

How did you celebrate? It's not too late to share; check out how others dug in on Twitter, and remember you can still add your school to the Imagine a Garden in Every School 2016 Map.

If you're looking to share information about your healthy school initiative further, add your school's health story to the Joint Consortium for School Health Map here.