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West Hardin takes part in Farm to School month

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By Kelly Cantrall

West Hardin Middle School students and staff have been celebrating the bounty of local farms in and out of the lunch room.

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West Hardin staff and students took part last week in National Farm to School month, which recognizes local produce that’s served in schools. Through the week, students sampled local peppers and apples and learned about aspects of agriculture in a number of classes. Students and staff also presented their work to the community at an expo.

Teacher Leslie Meredith learned about the Farm to School program and wanted to bring the focus on agriculture into her school. She then learned that Hardin County Schools Child Nutrition Services has been working to bring local food into schools for the past couple of years.

Nutrition director Mary Kuhn had been looking for a way to highlight the locally sourced items on menus, so she used the West Hardin event to kick off a Vegetable of the Month program, which educates students about local produce and serves it in schools.

“It was a great tie into our program,” Kuhn said.

October’s vegetable was the pepper, and each student at West Hardin had the opportunity to try fresh samples. Many had never tried one or knew that they are grown in the area, Meredith said.

“Even though we are rural, some of them don’t know where their food comes from,” she said.

Eighth-grader Joey Simoneit had eaten a bell pepper before, but never an uncooked one.

“They’re usually sautéd with soy sauce and teriyaki sauce at a Chinese restaurant,” Simoneit said.

The peppers, from a farm in Grayson County, were served in the cafeteria. Students received apples from Hinton’s Orchard, too.

In the classroom, students learned about agriculture profits in math class, the origin of various crops in social studies, and painted with soils in art class, among other ways the program was worked into the curriculum.

“I think it’s something exciting for the teachers and the kids because it’s something different,” Meredith said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at 270-505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.