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Bringing the farm to the classroom

Second Farm to You Fest hailed as educational and charitable success

For lots of school children, food originates in the kitchen or cafeteriaanything beyond that can be an abstract concept. But in the Bethlehem School and other districts across the state, educators are aiming to change that perception through the annual Farm to You Fest, which is in its second year at BC schools.

Farm to You Fest is a weeklong program built mainly around educational components, teaching elementary school-aged children all about where food comes from and the importance of eating fresh food. But a huge component of the week is also a Squash Hunger drive.

Last year, schools donated about 1,000 pounds of produce, and on Friday, Oct. 22, students and parents turned over more than 300 pounds of fresh food to bring the total raised to 1,034 pounds. The food was delivered to local organizations that will either cook it for meals or distribute it straight to the needy. Friday's delivery sent to the Capital City Rescue Mission.

Though schools are often involved in food collections, Squash Hunger is different in that the food is fresh.

It's not in boxes and cans, which is what kids are used to bribing in for food drives," said Karen Shaw of the BC Healthy Kids Committee, which is deeply involved in the fest. "Not only do our students in Bethlehem have to eat fresh to be healthy, families everywhere who are in need do need more than the boxed stuff. They need fresh food."

Putting the emphasis on fresh, locally-grown ingredients and foods is what the Farm to You Fest is really all about. Though most adults know a fresh-picked head of lettuce is more flavorful and nutritious than one shipped hundreds of miles across the country, for children that difference might not be so obvious.

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