Chartwells School Dining Services is introducing a Garden Guide designed to be a comprehensive resource for its operators, school educators and community members who are interested in developing and maintaining school gardens.
“School gardens are an exciting way for Chartwells to introduce new, healthy foods into student’s diets," says Chartwells President Keith Cullinan. "The gardens also provide an opportunity for physical activity throughout the day by bringing the classroom outdoors for hands-on learning. We are proud to provide a Garden Guide that will help food service operators and other school stakeholders make informed decisions when implementing school garden programs.”
Developed by Chartwells’ Nutrition & Sustainability team, the guide provides step-by-step support for implementing a school garden and is divided into four sections:
Starting a Garden, which leads operators through all the steps of starting a garden project, including obtaining approval from school officials, creating a budget and developing a garden design.
Safety and Sanitation in Gardens, which includes specific instructions on creating a Food Safety Plan for a school garden, including growing conditions and production tips, worker health and sanitation guidelines, containers and equipment care, transport and delivery and produce washing instructions.
Harvesting and Serving Garden Produce in Schools, which includes a set of procedures and steps that must be carried out prior to serving any food from the school garden in the cafeteria with a specific concentration on food harvest, recovery and produce storage.
Chartwells Protocol for Garden Produce in School Meals, which outlines the paperwork requirements, approvals and certifications that must be met and obtained before embarking upon a school garden project.
The company says many of its school accounts have developed and are currently maintaining a school garden and it expects to see a growing number of inquiries as the school gardening trend continues.
“We have had a school garden for a few years now and it is exciting to see how more and more students want to be involved in gardening,” says Marcia Servatius, Chartwells Director of Dining Services at Ottawa (KS) School District. “Not just here at school, but growing their own gardens at home and in the community.”
Another school, in Tiverton, RI, is taking the school garden concept one step further with an “Edible Schoolyard Project” that educates children on the benefits of vegetables and the USDA’s new MyPlate icon. The edible schoolyard lessons were conducted for five second grade classes at two elementary schools in the local area and were presented by Chartwells nutritionist Nancy Roberts and Executive Chef Jeff Simbro.
During the sessions, Roberts presented the students with various vegetables and plants and explained their nutritional values and benefits. During the lesson, Simbro made a salad featuring each plant and vegetable that the students were able to taste test afterwards. The students were also sent home with recipes and a MyPlate mini poster to share with their families.