Farm to School Program at Maryhurst changing the way students eat and learn

By Quin Welch, Building Kentucky

Maryhurst’s Farm to School program is changing the way students eat — and is educating them on where their food comes from.

Maryhurst is well known in Kentucky for being the Commonwealth’s oldest child welfare agency — lifting young people up and setting them up for success later in life.

A new program has changed the way Maryhurst students think about their food — and has even empowered students to help select fresh, healthy food from nearby farms for meals in the Maryhurst cafeteria.

The Maryhurst Farm to School program includes students as young as pre-K all the way through 12th grade. It connects Maryhurst Academy students with local growers and farmers to provide products like meat and produce to Maryhurst for meals at school.

The program also provides hands-on educational opportunities for students to strengthen their knowledge of how food is cultivated before it ends up on their plates.

“It provides education in fun, interactive way for the kids,” Maryhurst Food Service Manager Stacey Cole said in a recent interview with KET’s Kentucky Edition. “That could mean growing a garden that they would utilize in the school.”

As food costs continue to skyrocket, Cole said utilizing the Farm to School program is actually saving Maryhurst money.

“It’s a lot cheaper,” Cole said. “With COVID, the supply chain was so crazy. Some of the prices for the food — if we could get it — it was so expensive. We receive funds from the government called supply chain demand funds. There are limits on what we can use those funds for, and you can’t use it for processed foods. So what would be better than getting food from a farm?”

Cole said students love the program and are taking in active role in ensuring its success at Maryhurst.

“They love it. They got their way!” Cole said. “A lot of those kids may not have had the chance to have farm fresh foods. Even speaking for myself — that was the first time that I visited a farm. And I thought, ‘Wow. These kids deserve this.’ It just blew my mind how clean and fresh the food tasted.”

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