Forestville promotes wellness, local farmers

Submitted Photo Chris and Tom DeGolier of DeGolier Maple Products in Forestville are this month’s featured farmers for Forestville Central School’s Farm to School initiative.

FORESTVILLE — While January is a popular time of year to adopt resolutions for healthier habits, Forestville Central School is taking great strides to promote health and wellness district-wide, year ’round, beginning with Wellness Week this week.

During the January board of education meeting, Farm to School grant coordinator and middle/high school health and P.E. teacher Brandi Pettit shared a presentation with board members about the Wellness Committee’s plans for 2019, as well as updates on the Farm to School grant, which has been instrumental in providing healthy and local menu options for students and staff.

Since Monday, the school district has been participating in a variety of activities for Wellness Week, which are in line with the new school wellness policy that was completed in June of 2018.

The wellness committee has included a variety of activities this week including a pedometer challenge for the K-12 staff, “7 parts of Wellness” project in the elementary school and a Wellness Fair today from 4 to 7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Pettit shared that the week also includes a blood drive that the student council is hosting this Friday, Jan. 18 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

In her presentation, Pettit also updated the board on the Farm to School grants that the district has received. Round one of the funding, $81,820, runs through 2020 and supports Forestville as the lead school district and Pine Valley Central school as the partner district. The grant has funded the purchase of new equipment, including blenders, vacuum-sealing and freezing, as well as Pettit’s position as Farm to School coordinator. “Without the grant funding, we would have continued to have experienced rising maintenance costs on outdated equipment that was failing,” said Superintendent Renee Garrett. “We are so grateful that we were given this funding.”

The grant also funds collaboration with local farmers, including the purchase of their food to serve to students in the cafeteria. Throughout the school year, the district features a local farmer and their products. In November, the school featured Meadows Farm and this month, DeGolier Maple Products is the featured farmer, Pettit explained. The DeGolier family of Quarry Road in Forestville has been making fresh maple products for seven generations. Through Farm to School, owners Tom and Chris DeGolier have partnered with the district to offer maple syrup products to be used in the school cafeteria for menu items such as pancakes, maple baked beans and baked apples. The family has a history of partnering with the school district, as the DeGolier’s farm provides maple syrup/products for the school’s annual fundraiser. According to Pettit, next month’s Featured Farmer is Hamlet Farm in Sheridan.

Pettit also discussed the district’s new round of Farm to School Grant funding that has recently been awarded to the district. Round two, $99,236, runs through 2021, also with Forestville as the lead district and Pine Valley as the partner district. With this funding, the district is planning to purchase new equipment including a new serving line for the elementary school and panini makers, as well as hire a nutrition education integrator.

The grant will continue to support the purchase of foods from local farmers to be incorporated in the school cafeteria menu, such as paninis with fresh local vegetables. “It is our hope that we can increase healthy eating habits among our students,” Garrett stated. “We are also hoping to introduce our students to a wide range of fruits and vegetables they can purchase right here in our community. We feel strongly that through this initiative, we will be able to communicate to students and their families the farmers who could sell these healthy foods to them.”

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