Yesterday, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Celebrity Chef and DC Food Policy Council Chairman Spike Mendelsohn, Deputy Mayor for Education Jennie Niles and acting State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang joined students and teachers at Burroughs Education Campus for the 2015 Strawberries and Salad Greens Day. The annual event, sponsored by the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), offers DC students the opportunity to taste locally grown berries and greens and learn about the local foods featured in their school meals as part of the National School Lunch Program.
“Our goal is to ensure that schools are conducive to healthy lifestyles,” said Mayor Bowser. “We will continue to promote healthy choices in our schools through physical and food education. We want students to serve as ambassadors for healthy lifestyles with their families and communities throughout the District.”
To celebrate Strawberries and Salad Greens Day, education stations were set up in school cafeterias across the city to engage children in discussions about the importance of healthy eating and the benefits of eating locally.
“We know that students are most successful when they eat healthy foods and participate in physical activity,” said Superintendent Kang. “Through programs like our Strawberries and Salad Greens Day, we are able to reinforce messages about health and wellness at schools and throughout our community.”
The farm to school program helps increase the amount of local food served in our schools and incorporates nutrition education into schools through field trips, gardening, taste tests, and hands-on activities. The program ensures that students receive healthy meals at school, which can have profound impacts on educational achievement.
In addition to today’s tasting, similar taste tests were held monthly this school year at 15 schools across the city as a part of the Harvest of the Month Program funded through a USDA Farm to School Grant. Through this grant, 5,000 District students have had the opportunity to taste a different, locally grown fruit or vegetable each month. OSSE administered the Harvest of the Month program in conjunction with FoodCorps, which places Service Members in schools for one year to work on farm to school and school garden initiatives. The food for the taste tests was sourced through a partnership with Miller Farms of Clinton, MD.
Following the tasting, Mayor Bowser and Burroughs Education Campus Principal Aqueela James toured the school’s garden and helped students plant vegetables. OSSE currently provides financial assistance and technical support to the District’s more than 100 school gardens.
For more information on farm to school and the upcoming Growing Healthy Schools Month, visit osse.dc.gov.