As I write this, my final blog post, I am headed into my last week as City Market’s Outreach and Education Coordinator. After 9 years of coordinating and attending classes, I feel as though school is being let out for summer…or forever. It really is a bittersweet feeling. I am happy to be moving into a part time position at the Co-op, which will allow me to spend more time with my son. And staying at the Co-op allows me to continue to connect with all the awesome folks that I have met along the way. However, I have always enjoyed being a student! I have learned so much over these past many years, not only from the instructors, but also from the participants, who spoke up with comments and asked thought-provoking questions. One interesting thing about the timing is that as I am stepping away from classes, so too are many students who are headed on to summer break. As school lets out for summer, it seems like the perfect time to show some appreciation for the Burlington School Food Project, which has worked tirelessly to provide healthy meals to Burlington’s children over the past school year!
The schools have been wonderful partners with City Market over the years and have generously opened up their kitchens to us. It has been a great opportunity to become more aware of the important role that the school kitchens serve in the young community.
According to Hunger Free Vermont, one in five children in Vermont experiences hunger or food hardship. In Vermont 25,000 children under the age of 18 live in food insecure households. The organization states that this causes the following effects to children: “greater risk for poor health, nutritional deficiencies and obesity/overweight, as well as developmental delays, poor academic achievement, depression, and increased aggressive or hyperactive behavior”.
It is incredibly saddening to think of these statistics! If you are interested in getting involved Hunger Free Vermont, Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf and Burlington School Food Project are all good organizations to align with, through donations or volunteer work. As a City Market Member Worker you receive credit toward a monthly discount for volunteer hours.
Moving back to the Burlington School Food Project, I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the valuable work that they do. The Burlington School Food Project offers wholesome, fresh and nutritious meals daily to 4,000 students in the Burlington School District. This includes daily lunches of soup, salad bar and milk; free breakfast and after school suppers; free lunch at C.P. Smith, Hunt, Integrated Arts Academy, JJ Flynn, and the Sustainability Academy; and a free extra serving of fruits or veggies during class for students K-5.
The BSFP strives to include local foods and depending on the time of year and availability, they serve between 10-40% local items. Commonly served are local apples, root crops, milk, and winter squash. The cafeteria staff has told me that they strive to see at least one fruit or veggie on each tray, even if it requires a little nudge.Bonnie Acker’s canvas paintings which highlight the many local foods available to students.
At Edmunds, where many City Market classes have been held over the past year, the Elementary and Middle Schools share one kitchen. At my final class at Edmunds, it was apparent just how much the students appreciate the cafeteria staff! The wall along the lunch line was wallpapered with hand drawn pictures and thank you notes. It is no small job that these folks have on their hands, but it is clear that they are making a huge impact through their work.
A great big thank you to Edmunds cafeteria staff from the students!
More handwritten thank you notes and pictures. Can you imagine finding this upon arrival to work?
And while the students head out on summer break, not so for much of the staff; they will continue working through the summer to provide meals on 39 days this summer. To Doug, Pat, Ryan Nora, Mitsy, and Meagan (the folks that I have had the pleasure of working with) and to all of the Burlington School Food Project staff: THANK YOU!
Want to get involved in solving hunger issues in our state? Here are some useful links: