When students enthusiastically show up to Pellston Public Schools to meet their new teachers and see their freshly painted classrooms at the open house on August 29, they’ll also be greeted by area farmers, locally grown vegetables, and delicious samples. The tasty surprise is a “pop-up farmers market,” something that’s been happening as part of farm-to-school efforts across the state and country as more schools make commitments to healthier options in their cafeterias. (Farmers from the Pellston Farmers Market normally set up on Tuesdays 4:30–6 p.m. at 421 Stimpson St.)

The school’s superintendent, Monique Dean, after eating lunch in Boyne Falls Public Schools cafeteria years ago, decided that a farm-to-school program would be a great way to increase the health of Pellston’s students. So when the former food service director retired, Dean hired Sherry Sedore, who grew up on a farm, and was excited about bringing more scratch cooking to the school. At that time, the school also partnered with the Groundwork Center, a service site for FoodCorps.

Since September 2017, FoodCorps has been able to bring food-related lessons to the classroom and assist with monthly tastings, encouraging students to step outside of their comfort zones and try something new. The school’s first year with a FoodCorps service member was successful, and the team is thrilled to continue plans that include building a school garden and more.

While farmers will be at the school pop-up market to sell their goods to families and the general public, other booths will offer educational materials, like recipes, and tips for stretching your food dollar, along with the featured Harvest of the Month—kale—in a salad that students and their families can taste and vote on, just like the students will be doing at school. They also get to influence the menu with those votes. If more students “liked it” and “loved it” over just “tried it,” Sedore can put more of that recipe on the menu.

—Press release provided by Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

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