re:TH!NK’s Healthy Food and Beverages team partnered with University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Politics of Food Quest class to teach nutrition lessons within area childcare programs. Groups of college students developed nutrition lesson plans about locally grown produce and introduced them to young students at UWO Childcare Center and Head Start programs in Oshkosh.
Partnering with UWO and Childcare providers is a win-win: UWO students gain an appreciation of local food and early intervention in the early care setting, and children within childcare settings receive this nutrition education. One UWO student shared, “It is really cool to see how just by sitting down to talk about a new food, using our senses to describe it, and having fun interactions with it, gets the kids really excited about trying it! What a fun experience!”
The re:TH!NK Healthy Food and Beverages team offers support to any organization interested in getting involved in increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in children 0-5 years.
The Farm 2 School program has been rapidly expanding during 2013. Fun Food of the Month cafeteria tastings were held at all 16 Oshkosh elementary schools, sampling fresh, healthy, foods for K-5 students. re:TH!NK partnered with Fox Valley Technical College’s Culinary Arts Program and local restaurants to host chef events at 2 middle schools in Oshkosh. Students were able to see how to prepare healthy recipes and to try some new foods. Our Farm 2 School AmeriCorps member also provides classroom nutrition education in several public and private school systems in the county. Over 500 students at 8 schools received lessons from October through December. School gardens were built in two Oshkosh elementary schools during 2013, giving over 600 students the opportunity to get their hands in the soil and learn about growing vegetables.
re:TH!NK staff working on Farm to School and the food service staff from Omro, Winneconne, and Oshkosh schools teamed up in August 2014 to prepare and freeze over 1,250 lbs of Ratatouille sauce to add freshness and vitality to the school lunch menus. Locally grown tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs from Wisconsin farms were used to make the sauce. Over 12,000 students had the opportunity to try the ratatouille in their school lunches on pizza or as a side dish.
re:TH!NK received a USDA Farm to School grant in November 2013 to help with implementing the Northeast WI Food Hub among other initiatives related to Farm to School. With this grant, re:TH!NK worked with county school districts to implement ‘Fun Food of the Month’ into local cafeterias, allowing students to sample healthy, local foods. An AmeriCorps Farm to School member has supported re:TH!NK Farm to School efforts starting in 2014 supporting nutrition education and community outreach around healthy, local foods.
Winnebago County Farm to School was awarded a Healthy Eating Active Living Grant from Ministry Healthcare Systems in 2016. This grant allowed all 5 school districts in Winnebago County to build their capacity to serve minimally-processed, local produce during their school lunch by funding food processing equipment and local food sampling in elementary cafeterias.
Shout out to long-time coalition member Sarah Wright! She is the Program Manager for Weight of the Fox Valley (WOTFV) and has been an advocate for healthy eating and improved food systems in Winnebago County since joining re:TH!NK as a resident in 2011. Her passion for community health led the Winnebago County Health Department to hire Sarah on as staff in 2012 to lead re:TH!NK’s Farm 2 School efforts. She’s also had a leading role in healthy kids meals, Farm 2 Early Care and Education, and overcoming barriers to expanding local food markets. She has represented re:TH!NK and Winnebago County on numerous regional and statewide groups and committees including WI Farm 2 School Leadership Team, WI Healthy Food Systems Alliance, WI Local Food Network, and healthTIDE’s Healthy Food Retail Team. Sarah has been with WOTFV since 2017 and remains an active member of re:TH!NK’s Healthy Food & Beverages and Active Communities teams. Thank you Sarah for your dedication and passion!
re:TH!NK once again partnered with UWO’s Quest III “Politics of Food” to support the Healthy Food & Beverages Team’s Farm-to-Preschool initiative. Students prepared lesson plans to “Plant a Seed” and the “Two-Bite Club” which encourages increased consumption of vegetables and fruit in the early childcare setting.
UW Oshkosh Childcare, Davis Childcare and Chiemsee Castle welcomed UWO students in the program to visit their centers twice. Each child got to plant a seed and will either care for the seed at the center or bring the seedling home. Each family was provided care instructions and information on the “Two Bite Club”. The Two-Bit Club encourages kids to try something new with just two bites and we encourage families to try this at home too!
This initiative is a great way to encourage everyone to get a few bites of nutritious food and teaches where our food comes from! The kids enjoyed planting the seeds and asked lots of questions.