Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while now will know that I am a champion for food education. I’ve been teaching boys to cook in my after school clubs over the past nearly six (!) years and nearly every chance I get, I try to promote healthy choices and real food (even managing to get it into my curriculum now and then!). One of the questions I get asked the most by others who want to help promote food education in their communities/ schools/ homes is “What can I do?”. Well today, I’m sharing a wonderful new initiative here in Ontario that would be a great start – Fresh from the Farm.
We all know fundraising season is about to begin in school communities everywhere (you know the ones – chocolate bars, candies, wrapping paper, cookies…). Well Fresh from the Farm is here to provide healthy fundraising options to schools by selling local Ontario fruit and vegetables. Instead of selling unhealthier options, students sell “bundles” of fresh, Ontario fruit and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, apples) for their fundraising efforts, and Fresh From the Farm delivers them to the schools for distribution!
Since September 2013, over 150 Ontario schools have successfully piloted Fresh from the Farm, collectively distributing almost 130,000 kilograms of fresh, local fruit and vegetables to Ontario families, and raising more than $112,000 for school initiatives. Bonus? An additional $150,000 was returned to Ontario farmers. It’s a win-win situation for everyone – schools get to raise the funds they need, healthy eating is promoted in the school community and at home, and local farmers and the local economy are supported.
The programme is a collaboration between the Ontario Ministry of Education, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, and Dietitians of Canada.
Who can participate?
You can see the entire list of Ontario elementary and secondary school boards that are eligible to participate here.
What’s for sale?
- Bundle A ($10) includes: 3 lb Carrots, 3 lb Onions, 5 lb Potatoes, and 3 lb Sweet Potatoes from Ontario
- Bundle B ($15) includes: 8 lb box of Ontario Apples
How much money does the school make? What about the farmers?
- Schools make 40 per cent of total revenue collected (less a $60 delivery fee)
- Farmers are returned 50 per cent
- Fresh from the Farm receives 10 per cent which goes towards program sustainability
What do I do if I want to get my school involved?
Have a School Champion (person responsible for coordinating fundraising efforts in a school) enrol your school before October 9th 2015.
Ok, my school is enrolled, now what?
Fundraising can take place until October 16th 2015, the deadline for orders, then deliveries will take place in November. Imagine receiving a bundle of local produce in the dark days of November – nothing more motivating to get in the kitchen and cook some great real food meals from scratch!
Sometimes the enormity of the need for food education in schools makes me feel a little overwhelmed and like I will never be able to do anything about it. However, ultimately, I believe big changes come from a lot of smaller changes, made consistently over a long period of time and this initiative certainly speaks to that. We’re not changing the system (i.e. fundraising is here to stay) but we’re changing the way we think about it and how we do it. Change also begins with conversations and I can only imagine the conversations that will take place during delivery week when people are receiving their bundles of fresh Ontario produce! People talking about food and cooking is the first step to making real food, nutrition and healthy choices a part of our everyday lives, not just something reserved for New Year’s Resolutions.
So how about it? Let’s make 2015 the year we begin to fundraise healthfully.
Disclosure: I received compensation from Fresh from the Farm in collaboration with Food Bloggers of Canada in return for promoting this initiative. All opinions are my own and I will only write about a product/ programme/ initiative if I support it myself.