Fresh Take Blog

FoodPrints brings outdoor education and academic enrichment when it is needed most

Sep. 8, 2021

5 DCPS schools add FoodPrints programming this year

FoodPrints, FRESHFARM’s food education program that get students in schools across DC outside working together to grow, harvest, and eat fresh food in their schoolyard, is the perfect antidote to a year of online learning. We hear from principals, families, and students that FoodPrints’ unique interactive format will help kids reconnect with each other and with their school as they come back to in-person learning. And this school year, FoodPrints will be a major part of several schools’ COVID recovery plans.

As our program grows this year to 19 partner schools serving over 6,700 students, we are thrilled to be partnering with five new Title I schools across the city, many in historically underserved areas, supported by federal funds for COVID recovery in education. The principals at these new FoodPrints partner schools decided to use a portion of these crucial funds for FoodPrints to provide experiences for students that are both academically enriching and emotionally healing. One principal said to us, “We want to work with FoodPrints because our students need connected experiences to help them heal.”

Our new partner schools — which range from STEM to bilingual focus — are Amidon Bowen and Payne in Ward 6 and Powell, Truesdell, and Whittier elementary schools in Ward 4. Read on for highlights on a few of these new partnerships:

Whittier: Expanding wellness, nutrition, and community connections

Health, wellness, nutrition, and community are core parts of the Whittier school mission, and the school has a thriving garden, but has never before had consistent classes in the garden. A new partnership with our FoodPrints program will bring experiential food education into school-day learning. Whittier Principal Tiffany Johnson, the STEM Coordinator Mr. Thompson, and the school’s Garden Committee have all been incredibly welcoming to the FoodPrints team, and joined forces with FoodPrints to host a School and Garden Beautification Day in late August. FoodPrints teacher Ms. Rebecca can’t wait to begin FoodPrints classes at Whittier Elementary, which is located in the community where she lives. In addition to classes for students, Ms. Rebecca and the Whittier team will focus on increasing community involvement in the garden to make it an inclusive and welcoming space for all.

Powell: New opportunities to get students outside and involve families

To bounce back from over a year of virtual learning, the administrators at Powell Elementary wanted something new and positive for their community that would get students outside and involve families and the community. The administrators decided FoodPrints was just what their school needed, and FoodPrints is looking forward to providing positive outdoor experiences for Powell students and families this year! Currently, FoodPrints is working with Powell to build the school’s very first garden. The school has selected a space for the garden and materials have been ordered to begin the build. The garden will be right next to the playground, where it will be accessible to students and families as they play and come and go from school.

Powell administrators and the FoodPrints Lead Teacher Ms. Jill will invite families and community members to be involved in the garden build — to fill the beds with soil and plant the very first seeds — so that everyone knows that the Powell garden is their garden and they are a part of it. Ms. Jill will continue to build student ownership and leadership in the garden by focusing FoodPrints classes on planning garden planting using math and lessons on seasonality and plant parts. The new Powell garden will be a space to bring students and the wider community together around something that is positive, exciting, and collaborative after a year of isolation.

Amidon Bowen: Classroom teachers are important partners in the success of FoodPrints

School staff are an integral part of FoodPrints success. Classroom teachers participate in our classes and are engaged in learning more about our approach and lessons. At Amidon Bowen, FoodPrints teacher Ms. Fineran started these connections at a staff meeting before school began with a presentation about our program and an opportunity to sample some of our favorite FoodPrints salads: Apple Beet Carrot (ABC) Salad and Tuscan Kale Salad. The teachers loved it all and were eager to take the recipes home! Ms. Fineran introduced staff to FoodPrints lessons, by asking them to share a story special to them centered around food in their lives to help get to know one another and create connections. Through the presentation, recipe tastings, and this lesson, teachers expressed lots of excitement for FoodPrints as well as interest in being part of the upcoming building of the new FoodPrints garden. We are looking forward to collaborating with such a great staff at Amidon Bowen and all of our other schools!

Through hands-on investigations from the FoodPrints Curriculum, real work and connections with the natural world in our gardens, and greater access to fresh food, we look forward to working with students across the city to rekindle the joy of learning after over a year of virtual learning.

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