Wholesome Wave FoodCorps Service Member Makes Food Day Possible at Local Bridgeport Elementary School

by Amy Kleinman

The food movement is sweeping across the country, gathering supporters from all walks of life, and Bridgeport is no exception. As a FoodCorps Service Member, I will be serving with Wholesome Wave and Nutritional Services in Bridgeport, Connecticut for a one-year term. During this time I will teach nutrition education, build and tend school gardens and promote sourcing of local food to the school cafeterias.

I began my service term in August and immediately began building critical relationships at local schools throughout the area. Immediately, I came to learn that Barnum School in Bridgeport had a successful garden program run through 4-H and Green Village Initiative, enthusiastic teachers, and a principal who was eager to educate and inform his students about healthy eating.  Knowing that I wanted to hold a unique Food Day event, I quickly realized that Barnum School was already well equipped to host one.

In the weeks leading up to the event, I collaborated with organizations throughout Bridgeport who are working to highlight healthy eating, including Cooking Matters, Green Village Initiative, Dunk the Junk as well as

many local farms. For the day of event, I worked to incorporate produce from local farms in Connecticut, including Cecarelli’s Farm, Jones Family Farm, Buells’ Orchard and Blue Jay Orchard.

On Food Day, October 24, kids and parents alike came to the health fair at Barnum School. Volunteers from Groundwork Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University helped run the booths and organizations from throughout Bridgeport came together to help make the event a huge success. Cooking Matters made whole-wheat oatmeal pancakes with an apple-pear compote; Green Village Initiative discussed the importance of composting and teaching kids how to plant a tomato, eggplant, green bean and sunflower seed using pots made of recycled newspaper; and Dunk the Junk gave kids an opportunity to get excited about healthy eating by dunking Twinkies and other processed foods to win a local Blue Jay Orchard apple. The children at Barnum School were able to decorate a reusable canvas bag from Superior Knicker with their favorite fruits and vegetables to carry  the vegetables they were able to take home. They also ate healthy snacks and learned how to make healthy food choices that are not only affordable but also sustainable.

The Food Day event was well attended and the children at Barnum had a great time participating in the numerous activities, tasting fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables and learning about the benefits of healthy eating.

In other parts of Connecticut, FoodCorps service members took part in making Food Day 2012 a success. At Common Ground in New Haven, Kala Cuerington helped launch the School Garden Resource Center with representatives from New Haven, Bridgeport, Hamden, and Shelton. In the Norwich public schools, Liz Broussard spent the day serving up samples of local butternut squash to middle school students during their lunch period. In the Windham public schools, Kate Callahan held a squash tasting at the local High School and taught a cooking club at the middle school. Finally, in New Britain, Deanna Lampo sourced locally grown apples and butternut squash from Rogers Orchards that were served to patrons and staff at the New Britain Community Health Center.

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