FARM TO SCHOOL PROGRAM
The Stevens Point YMCA, is excited to welcome the Farm to School Program* and its two members: Alyssa Morris (Nutrition Educator) and Amberle Schwartz (Community Outreach Specialist). Farm to School is an AmeriCorps program that emphasizes on:
(1) Strengthening local economies by expanding markets for Wisconsin agricultural producers and food entrepreneurs.
(2) Promoting children’s health by providing fresh and minimally processed foods in schools and supporting the development of healthy eating habits.
(3) Increasing children’s and communities’ knowledge about agriculture, food, nutrition and the environment.
In addition to the Y, Alyssa and Amberle will be at local schools, the Farmshed, the farmers market, the Children’s Museum and throughout the community implementing educational activities including gardening, food tastings, chef demos (and much more!) as well as working toward incorporating more sustainable, local and healthy foods into meal menus.
*Farm to School is sponsored in part through grants from the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, Women’s Fund of Portage County and the Stevens Point Area YMCA Foundation.
My name is Alyssa Morris and I am the Nutrition Educator for the Farm to School program. My work as the Nutrition Educator continues! I am serving again for the Farm to School program for the 2018-2019 year! I am looking forward to seeing what things we accomplish this year for our community! My first year of Farm to School gave me the opportunity to learn more about our food systems, plants, ways of farming, sustainability and much more! This experience has helped me incorporate these sustainable habits into my personal lifestyle and I love leading by example and sharing this knowledge to the kids in our community. It is easy to teach kids about making healthier choices when they see you doing it too (and loving it!). Last year, we spent learning the reigns of our program and getting to know all the connecting pieces of what makes our program a success. Year two we will be utilizing our knowledge we have gained throughout that year and putting it to use! I am looking forward to serving our community for another year with our established partners, my partner Amberle, our farmers, and teachers. Here is to year two!
Community Outreach Specialist
Amberle loved the Farm to School program so much that she is serving as an AmeriCorps Farm to School Outreach Coordinator for a second term of service starting in fall of 2018. Before she was an AmeriCorps member she earned a bachelor’s degree in Water Resource Management from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and worked on several small Wisconsin farms including a critter ranch in central Wisconsin, a permaculture farm in the driftless region and several fruit and vegetable CSAs throughout the state. These experiences have given her a farmers perspective on sustainable food systems which has greatly aided her in managing the YMCA garden and teaching children about where their food comes from. While she was not born in Stevens Point she is passionate about this community. “I like to consider myself a transplant. The seed was germinated elsewhere, but here is where I take root and grow. I love this community and I cannot wait to start another year working with all the wonderful people, farms, schools and organizations we are so lucky to have partnerships with.”
FACTS from the 2017-2018 service year!
- We reached over 450 students with 5 nutrition education lessons
- 26 total classrooms were reached with nutrition education, snack program and/or garden lessons
- Introduced 40+ local food items to classrooms in Stevens Point
- Doubled volunteer goals with 375 total volunteer hours!
- We had 27 one time volunteers and 32 ongoing volunteers! Thanks all! You rock!
- The Healthy Snack Program provided 250 students in 10 classrooms with a locally sourced snack once a week for 30 weeks, spending less than $5 per classroom each week.
- Donated the majority of YMCA garden produce to the Salvation Army Hope Center