Creating Partnerships for Health

It takes a dedicated team to provide in-depth experience for school children to
learn first-hand about food. The Roswell Independent School District’s (RISD)
Student Nutrition program has the support of many partners, including Healthy
Kids Chaves County, Chaves County Cooperative Extension, local growers –
Graves Farms and Nichols Farms – Farm to Table, and the Roswell High School
Ag Department.

Students at RISD enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables daily at breakfast and lunch,
including trips to the fruit and vegetable bar. With help from local growers, the
District provides fresh produce for the 5210 Challenge for third graders and fruit
tasting for the elementary schools. These activities create wonderful opportunities
to teach students about nutrition. In addition, approximately 700 students and
family members attend the annual Fit Family Night, which features locally
purchased fruit.

Kids also get to learn about growing food through farm tours at the Graves Farm,
where they get to pick pumpkins. And Roswell High School Ag teacher, Skyler
Pierce and his students, have gone above and beyond by building raised garden
boxes and drip systems for a number of the elementary schools so the students
can plant and grow vegetables.

Through the state funded New Mexico Grown Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for
School 
Meals (NM Grown Initiative), RISD received $15,000 last year to purchase
locally grown produce. They were able to match that money with $24,000 from
their regular budget for a total of $39,000 used to buy produce from New Mexico
farms. In addition to keeping money in the local economy, the advantage to buying
produce from local farmers is that it is fresher and therefore higher in nutritional
value. Plus, it creates a smaller carbon footprint because the food travels a shorter
distance.

The benefit of this integrated approach to connecting students, farmers and
educators is both short term and long term. In the end, it comes down to one
thing – health – by supporting students to be healthy and supporting a healthy
local economy. In this scenario, everyone benefits.

 

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