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Farm to School Educates Local Students

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EUGENE, Ore. — A nonprofit is helping kids eat fresh fruits and veggies by teaching them about local farms.

The Farm to School program, in its sixth year, shows local students the benefits of farm produce. Its goal is to connect students to the source of their food.

Fifth grade students at River Road Elementary School recently took a field trip to two nearby local farms as part of the program.

Their first stop was the Small Farmers Project, a u-pick farm just blocks away from the school. They took a tour to learn about where their food comes from and how nature works together, like bees and flowers.

After learning the rules of u-pick farms, like wash your hands before you pick, it was time to pick the perfect strawberries. Once each student filled a pint, they could sample.

Their next stop was Thistledown Farm. Students got a chance to see the large local farm in action and sampled fresh produce, like sun-ripened tomatoes and juicy plums picked from trees.

To date, 1,700 area students from River Road and Cesar Chavez Elementary schools in Eugene, Guy Lee Elementary in Springfield and Fairfield Elementary in the Bethel School District have participated in the Farm to School program.

“We work with the schools that have the highest percentage of poverty in the community, so we can provide them with supplemental produce, help them get excited about eating fruits and vegetables,” said Megan Kemple, Farm to School Program Director.

They also experience shopping at a farm stand for all the ingredients for a harvest meal.

“They love it when we go back to school and make a fruit salad or a green salad with eggs that maybe they reached under a chicken to harvest themselves,” Kemple said.

The Farm to School program is mainly funded by grants. A family outreach program is new this year to let parents know they can use EBT cards at farmers markets and farm stands.

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