Tug of War over Farm to School Strawberries?

That’s what one 4th grader suggested last Wednesday, upon learning that the cafeteria had sold out of Georgia-grown strawberries earlier in the lunch period. Another 4th grader requested that next month we wait until the fourth graders arrive before putting out the farm-to-school lunch item. Having served up all the strawberries to the Pre-K through 3rd graders, one food service staff member agreed, “next time, we’ll have to order more.”

If the popularity of the locally grown strawberries is any indication, it certainly looks like Chesnut students’ excitement about local, fresh fruits and vegetables is exceeding expectations. “These are so good!” “I love strawberries!” In several cases, Chesnut Changers reported giving out more hand stamps than there were lunches bought, as more children than ever before brought the monthly item from home to participate.

Some of our more refined tasters, 3rd grade Chesnut Changers Shay Martin and Sam Grant weighed in: “These are a little sourer than usual.” “Yes, a bit sour, a bit sweet.”

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It is encouraging to see that a simple hand stamp promotion gets the children excited about eating their veggies. Though as students peer forward in the lunch line, seeking the farm-to-school label that will guide them to the special locally grown food of the month, the question remains, do they get it?

Chesnut Changer Parent Sponsor Angela Renals poses these questions many times throughout the lunch period: “Why are we making a big deal about food that is grown in Georgia? Why does our hand stamp say ‘go green’?”

Some students shrug, others ask “why?” while Chesnut Changers brush up on what they’ve learned, offering “it’s healthy, it has lots of nutrients.” And suddenly fourth grader A’ta cheerfully supplies, “it uses less fossil fuels if it’s not shipped from far away, so less pollution too. That’s why it’s green.” Then his classmates say, “oh, yeah” and jump into the conversation. And that’s what the stirrings of stewardship sound like on Strawberry Day at Chesnut Charter Elementary.

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