The Edible Classroom is an innovative district-wide wellness initiative for Minnesota’s Waconia School District 110. This program is creating healthy lifestyles and a good foundation for wellness with its focus on local sourcing of food products and cultivating what they can in their own gardens—with student participation.
The district’s first farm-to-school project began when one of the Waconia schools received a grant to purchase a soft-serve ice cream freezer, acquired with the help of Horizon Equipment. Ice cream was the initial seed from which the possibilities of using locally sourced goods changed the school district’s approach to foodservice. Enter the Edible Classroom, where students learn about the food cycle that they call, “Seed-to-table, followed by table-to-compost.”
In a garden at one of the elementary schools, they plant seeds and see their harvest served in school. What food is leftover on children’s food trays is directed to compost, allowing the children to enrich the soil for their next round of planting. The surplus harvest is sent to local food shelves.
The program has grown to feature meal programs that encourage additional fruit and vegetable servings each day. When a student selects what they want, if they’ve included two services of fruits/vegetables, they get the program price. If not, they will still get tasty food, but at an a la carte price. Vending machines at the middle and high schools are stocked specifically to support the students who stay for extra curricular activities. Treats made in house are energy packed and healthy.
The Waconia project includes a return to serving milk in bulk dispensers. With smallwares purchased through Horizon Equipment, logoed drinking glasses replace the hundreds of small milk cartons that head to the landfill each year. In addition, it means students are not restricted to how much milk they are allowed to drink. In a recent agreement reached by Attorney General Keith Ellison and Dairy Farmers of America, 40 school districts can count on affordable milk for the next 10 years, “Milk in schools isn’t a luxury — it’s a staple and a necessity,” Attorney General Ellison said. “The families of children that rely on school milk are trying to afford their lives. So are the families that produce school milk.