Food Forests for Schools

Garden-to-Cafeteria Connections

Health Foundation of South Florida awards $50,000 to The Education to ensure school cafeterias serve students’ school garden produce

MIAMI LAKES, Fla. (July 14, 2016) – Health Foundation of South Florida has awarded a $50,000 grant to The Education Fund to expand its Cafeteria Connections program to 51 public elementary schools in Miami-Dade County, ensuring that fresh produce from each school garden will be used regularly to prepare student lunches.

With this grant, The Education Fund, working with Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Department of Food and Nutrition, will train cafeteria managers on how to incorporate students’ produce into lunches. Another unique facet of this training entails training teachers together with cafeteria managers.

“One of the keys of the program is to ensure students’ interest in healthy foods, especially vegetables, improves. We know students love working in the gardens and eating the vegetables straight from the ground. Now they get to experience the complete seed-to-table process,” says Linda Lecht, president of The Education Fund.

The Health Foundation’s grant also supports monthly picnics and nutrition talks with students about healthy eating, food preparation, and proper table practices at all 51 schools. Cafeteria workers will also host student recipe contests featuring school garden produce and promote daily specials using fresh fruits and vegetables picked for each meal.

Cafeteria Connections, part of The Education Fund’s Edible Garden Collaborative Nutrition Initiative (CNI), was piloted in 2015 thanks to a grant from the Health Foundation of South Florida and an ongoing partnership with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Department of Food and Nutrition. The collaboration showcases a new policy aimed at using school garden produce in meals served to students.

“With this project, we’re bringing garden produce into the cafeteria, influencing students’ eating habits for years to come, reducing obesity rates, and improving their overall wellness,” says Health Foundation President & CEO Steven Marcus, Ed.D.

The Health Foundation of South Florida grant helps The Education Fund strengthen its seed-to-table model with an aim to taking it to every public school in Miami-Dade County. Currently, The Education Fund trains teachers in 51 public elementary schools in Miami-Dade County to assist students in planting, maintaining, and harvesting organic edible gardens. Teachers use these edible eco-systems, some as large as 5,000 square feet, as teaching labs for all subject areas. The Education Fund’s edible garden program has improved students’ eating habits, on average, by 50 percent each year since its launch in 2007. The program was rated the most promising obesity prevention initiative in Florida (FLICHQ, 2010) and earned the prestigious Sapphire Award in 2009 from Florida Blue.

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About The Education Fund
The Education Fund’s current initiatives, including CNI, SmartPath to College, IMPACT II, Teach-A-Thon, Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials, For The Love of Art Exhibition and Charity Auction, bring innovative methods to our schools; inform the community about public education; and encourage private sector investment in public education. For its success in innovation, The Education Fund has won the Greater Miami Chamber’s NOVO Award. Prior programs laid a foundation for technology reform at the district and leadership preparation. The Education Fund’s work with the private sector has resulted in more than $46 million raised to improve education for public school students and teachers in Miami-Dade. For more information, visit www.educationfund.org.
About Health Foundation of South Florida
Health Foundation of South Florida, a nonprofit grant-making organization, is dedicated to improving health in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties. By advancing health solutions, the Foundation makes a measurable and sustainable impact in ensuring access to affordable, quality health services for all residents. Since 1993, the Foundation awarded more than $115 million in grants and program support. For more information, please call 305.374.7200 or see their website, www.hfsf.org