In a colorful classroom at McHarg Elementary School, Mrs. Sutphin’s second grade class joined the commonwealth to celebrate Virginia’s Farm-to-School Week by learning about, shucking and then lunching on locally grown ears of corn.
“Hello! I hope you are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning,” Nutrition Director Connie Wood said to Sutphin’s class of 22 eight-year olds taking an ear of corn from a bushel box.
“Farmers are harvesting their corn right now. Who has seen corn in the fields around us?”
Arms shot up.
“I have! There’s corn by my house,” someone said.
“This corn is from a farm in Hillsville, Virginia not far away,” she said.
Wood organized the corn-husking event as part of the state’s Farm-to-School Week, a movement that has grown over the past decade and has reached millions of students across the United States.
In only four years, local food purchases in Virginia schools have doubled research from Virginia Tech and Virginia Department of Education shows with more than $15.4 million spent on local foods during the 2016-2017 school year.
The cafeteria will also be serving locally grown Gala apples.
“We like corn. And what other animals like to eat corn?” Mrs. Sutphin asked.
“Crows!” someone said. “That’s why there are scarecrows.”
Deer and squirrels, and someone suggested corn snakes.
Then everyone marched outside to sit cross-legged on the sunny sidewalk to pull the green husks off the ears of corn.
Established this year, a Virginia Farm to School Network connects schools with local food producers to purchase fresh, healthy foods for school cafeterias, preschools and summer feeding programs while enhancing educational opportunities in school gardens, classrooms and cafeterias.
School gardens, farm field trips, local food on cafeteria trays: by linking farms to schools society provides opportunities for students to learn where food comes from and make healthier eating choices while creating new markets for local and regional farmers the Virginia Department of Education said.