What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
There have been several defining moments since VT FEED was founded more than a decade ago, in an era before the phrase “Farm to School” was coined. The first defining moment was when the principal at Jay Westfield Elementary School called from Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom seeking assistance to create a school garden. This call sparked three Vermont nonprofit organizations (Food Works, NOFA-VT and Shelburne Farms) to team up and develop an integrated approach to farming-food-nutrition education that links Classroom learning to Cafeteria food to the local Community of farmers and food producers who raised that food. In the decade that followed, we have taken numerous incremental steps to collaboratively build a successful Farm to School program and we’ve learned a lot along the way. One of the most important things we’ve learned is one must build capacity within schools and communities if Farm to School is to have staying power. Thus VT FEED provides professional development and technical assistance; develops resources, tools and materials; and answer questions, coaches and mentors.
Another defining moment happened in 2006, when the Vermont Legislature passed a Farm to School bill appropriating state funds to create a mini-grant program through which schools may now apply for planning and implementations grants for their Farm to School programs. The program is administered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. The passage of the bill exhilarated the Farm to School movement in Vermont and established a partnership between VT FEED, the Agency of Agriculture, and the Departments of Health and Education.
In September 2009, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy helped secure a grant for VT FEED from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enabling us to identify and evaluate Vermont’s most promising practices for getting kids to make healthy food choices.
In April 2010, a defining moment emanating from the White House came when Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative identified Farm to School as one of the five top strategies for school food improvement in the fight against childhood obesity. After years of hard work, the time truly has come for Farm to School to take its place on the national stage of programs that can and will change the health and well-being of all children. In Vermont we look forward to being part of the solution; to sharing our tools, resources and expertise; to supporting the spread this movement to every corner of the country.
Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.
Just as entrepreneurs change the face of business, social entrepreneurs act as the change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches, and creating solutions to change society for the better. There are three primary social innovators behind VT FEED:
Megan Camp is Vice President and Program Director of Shelburne Farms. Megan is an education consultant and advisor for a variety of organizations and educational projects. Since 1992 she has served as a lead consultant and partner for the Institute for Sustainable Communities working with community-based education projects around the world. Megan is an advisor to the Agriculture Innovation Center , the Vermont Natural Resources Council, the University of Vermont College of Ag and Life Sciences and also serves on the board of the Vermont Fresh Network.
Joseph Kiefer is the Director of Education and Executive Director of Food Works since 1988. He is passionately committed to saving family farms, feeding young children and connecting communities to their agricultural roots. He has authored several books including his latest, "Digging Deeper: Integrating Youth Gardens into Schools and Communities, A Comprehensive Guide."
Enid Wonnacott is Executive Director of NOFA-VT and has a master’s degree in Natural Resource Planning. Enid is an educational consultant who has won numerous accolades for scholarly accomplishments in community-based organizing.
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
Personal contact at Changemakers
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