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Crawford County Farm to School teaches children about food waste
CC Farm to School
NORTH CRAWFORD third graders, from left, Lorelai Young, Reese Seiser and Lilli Pettit with a tray of purple sweet potato hash browns made with the help of the high school family and consumer education class as part of a recent Farm-to-School food waste presentation.

CRAWFORD COUNTY - Food waste was the topic of a unique presentation at North Crawford Elementary School last month.

Dana Scheffen organized the event for the third grade classes of Jean Ottoway and Chelsea Beinborn. Scheffen is the Crawford County Farm-to-School Community Outreach Coordinator & Nutrition Educator.

The third graders began by sorting locally grown sweet potatoes. Then, they had a chance to eat some of them.

“The idea was to help the students understand that not all food that is produced is sold,” Scheffen said. “However, some of what is not sold can be used–even if it is not perfect.”

The sweet potatoes had been donated to the Viroqua-based Community Hunger Solutions because they were not suitable for sale due to size or other imperfections. Although the sweet potatoes were ‘seconds,’ many, but not all, were quite suitable for the dinner table.

Jeannette Burlingame, the Community Hunger Solutions Program Coordinator, brought the sweet potatoes to the school and explained the situation to the students. Burlingame also taught the students how to identify what was a usable sweet potato and what would have to composted.

Burlingame wasn’t the only one helping the students understand food waste and the possible solutions to it. Also activated for the presentation were high school students in Candace Petersen’s family and consumer education class, who assisted with a hands-on demonstration.

Under the direction of their teacher, the high school students assisted the third-graders in making purple sweet potato hash browns. Farm-to-School Coordinator Scheffen explained that she reached out to the high school class for a little help, when she realized this part of the presentation was going to involve hot oil and a grater.

When the half-hour event was over, Scheffen was confident the students had learned something about food waste and maybe how good locally grown sweet potatoes can taste.

“I love working with that school,” Scheffen said of North Crawford. The Farm-to-School Coordinator is an AmeriCorps volunteer position that works with eight local school districts on a variety of presentations and projects. 

One of the program’s goals is to bridge the gap between food service directors in the schools and area farmers, according to Scheffen. The Farm-to-School Coordinator visits each of the eight districts once every month.

Some of the other events Farm-to-School was involved in locally this year included demonstrations on fermentation and making humus at the Soldiers Grove Library and participating in the Winter Wellness Event at the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center. 

Scheffen’s term as the Farm-to-School Coordinator will end in August. She is currently busy working to make the job easier for the next Crawford County AmeriCorps Farm-to-School Community Outreach Coordinator & Nutrition Educator.