North Crawford will host their second annual wellness event, ‘Spring It On!’ on April 26 from 9 a.m. to noon.
The event offers plenty of information and encouragement to take the healthier path, but it also showcases the school’s efforts to create a culture within the school grounds focusing on movement and healthy food.
Among those efforts is a groundbreaking partnership-North Crawford and Driftless Organics have joined to create a ‘School Year Share.’ Every other week from August 28, 2014 until the beginning of February, 2015, Driftless Organics will deliver boxes of fresh, seasonal produce and a newsletter with recipes and storage tips.
The school is promoting the Community Supported Agriculture program and encouraging eligible area residents to apply for financial assistance through the Partner Shares program. Partner Shares will cover up to $300 of a share cost for families at or under 185-percent of the federal poverty
North Crawford’s partnership with Driftless Organics is the first of its kind in Wisconsin, according to Julie Garrett, the Community Program Manager at FairShare CSA Coalition.
“We are so excited to see how this goes,” said Garrett. She said the partnership is a model for the rest of Wisconsin.
Many of the larger health insurance groups encourage CSA participants, as well, said Driftless Organics partner Mike Lind.
“Some of the larger HMOs offer a rebate to patrons who purchase a share,” Lind said. “They are rewarding them for making healthier food choices.”
BadgerCare Plus, Gundersen Health, Dean Health, and Physicians Health are just some of the HMOs offering the incentive, according to Lind.
In addition to the produce shares, Driftless Organics also offers shares of sunflower oil and grass-fed beef.
The school is helping facilitate applications to the Partner Share program by making the application available to interested parties.
Lind is excited at the partnership. He and founding Driftless Organics partners and brothers Noah and Josh Engel are committed to local food production. Their operation produces close to a million pounds of produce yearly, some of which is already enjoyed by the students through the school nutrition program.
Drifless Organics and Organic Valley are providing much of the food that will be featured in Chef Monique Hooker’s contribution to the ‘Spring it On!’ event.
Hooker will prepare a free light lunch to be served at 11:15 a.m. Honored guests for the event include US Congressman Ron Kind, State Senator Jennifer Shilling, State Representative Lee Nerison, and Crawford County Board Chairman Pete Flesch.
The French-born Monique Hooker, retired to the Driftless area from Chicago where she had operated a culinary school, catering company and restaurant. Hooker has also written an award-winning cookbook and hosted a TV cooking show.
Since moving to the area, she has involved herself with the farm to school movement that seeks to bring fresh produce and from-scratch cooking back into the schools.
In addition to introducing the CSA to the school community as part of the ‘Spring It On! Healthy Lifestyles Fair,’ attendees can meet representatives from the local farmers’ markets, parks and recreation programs, outdoor activities, fitness classes and upcoming events.
A 5K ‘Family Fun’ Walk/Run will be held both on the school’s scenic trail and the track for those in need of a more level surface. Start times are 9:15 and 10 a.m. with free T-shirts offered to the first 200 participants.
Vernon Memorial Healthcare will offer assessments on body composition, blood pressure, healthy backs and shoe checks.
North Crawford will also use the event to show off the new equipment they have been able to purchase through the three-year Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) Grant.
The school has two climbing walls, a shorter six-foot wall for younger kids and a full size wall for the older students. They have also constructed an outdoor Fitness Challenge Course and incorporated technologies that encourage movement (iDance) and help track heart rate and energy use (Polar Cardio GX).
Tours will also be offered of the North Crawford Middle School and Elementary Schools’ new greenhouse and raised garden beds with Master Gardner Marta Engel. The project, which involves younger students in gardening, seeks to promote the pleasures and health benefits of consuming fresh fruit and vegetables.
Engel has volunteered to work with the school as they seek to expand their gardening efforts.
The event and health initiative it highlights have received a significant boost from the $800,000 PEP grant. North Crawford was one of only 56 schools nationally chosen to receive the award.
“We are working to involve the whole school in the wellness effort,” said Tarasa Lown, North Crawford’s Director of Resource Development.
“We have around 40 staff members currently participating in ‘Minute in Motion’,” Lown said.
“We are also working to make sure that while we have the funding from the PEP Grant, we are developing connections and resources that will last into the future,” Lown continued.
The school created a Health Council, comprised of administration, staff and students. Lown also joined the Healthy Roots of Crawford County Coalition, which is seeking to create community level changes that promote health and wellbeing.
Co-hosting the event and partnering with North Crawford as they implement the PEP grant is Vernon Memorial Healthcare.
VMH has been instrumental in the planning of the proposed fitness facility, which will go to referendum later this year.