SHREWSBURY — Shrewsbury Mountain School is putting local food on the menu — and into the classroom.
The school, which serves approximately 75 students in grades prekindergarten through six, recently received a $15,000 Farm to School Child Nutrition grant from the Vermont Department of Agriculture.
The grant will provide the school with financial support and technical assistance in order to promote healthy eating habits, enhance educational opportunities, build relationships between schools and farms and strengthen the local agricultural economy.
SMS Principal Jodie Stewart-Ruck said the grant will bolster the school’s sustainability education goals set by Mill River Unified Union School District’s district-wide Trailhead Program, where each school has an unique area of focus.
For the past two years, SMS has been working with Shelburne Farms and the Shrewsbury Institute for Agricultural Education, or SAGE, to develop opportunities for students to learn about the local agricultural system and enjoy local food in the cafeteria.
Stewart-Ruck said the grant will enhance these efforts as well as “create bonds” with the local farming community.
She cited SAGE’s Harvest of the Month initiative as an example of the type of programming the school hopes to build on. The monthly lessons provide students with an interactive opportunity to learn about, cook and eat local produce.
Stewart-Ruck said the grant will also facilitate professional development opportunities for the school chef and faculty to learn more about sourcing locally and local food systems.
She also described plans for a mobile cooking cart that would enable hands-on learning through food in the classroom. Currently, students must use the school cafeteria for cooking lessons.
In addition, Stewart-Ruck discussed plans to revamp and expand the school garden, turning it into an outdoor classroom and building capacity to source produce for the cafeteria.
“I hope this grant will help us connect with the town and farm communities,” she said.