Kalispell Public Schools
Kalispell, Montana

FoodCorps Montana

 

 

 

FoodCorps is a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who connect kids to real food and help them grow up healthy.

 

Our service members partner with schools to provide:

  • Knowledge: food and nutrition education that gives kids the information they need to make smart choices

  • Engagement: hands-on activities like gardening and cooking that foster skills and pride around healthy food

  • Access: lunch trays filled with nutritious meals from local farms

 

In Montana, FoodCorps service members are hosted by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) in Butte, Montana. Check out the FoodCorps Montana blog to learn more about exciting school garden and farm to school efforts happening around the state!

Learn more about our projects!

 

Kalispell Public Schools Partners with the Center for Restorative Youth Justice

 

Kalispell District 5 Public Schools is partnering with the Center for Restorative Youth Justice (CRYJ) to ensure that our school gardens and orchards, especially our Central Kitchen Garden, are well-tended. CRYJ youth work with CRYJ’s Director of Community Programming, Victoria Cronin, our FoodCorps service member, Whitney Pratt, and community volunteers to plant, maintain, water, weed, harvest and grow our school gardens.

Goal of partnership: 

The goal of the CRYJ/SD5 partnership is twofold: first, to contribute to the sustainability and success of District 5’s school garden program, and second, to support CRYJ’s mission to actively engage youth and communities in restorative programming that interrupts cycles of harm, and in creating opportunities for at-risk youth to deepen community connections and to find access to important support and reflection that results in powerful change.

CRYJ Mission Overlap: Gardens offer an opportunity for youth to develop new and more complex ways of understanding and connecting to the world - through the development of new skills, opportunities for recognition and celebration of accomplishments, volunteer and mentor-based support, and in this partnership - an opportunity to see the garden as an extension of their school community.

Opportunities: 1) Engage youth in meaningful, educational, and transformative community service opportunities; 2) Connect school gardens to cafeteria/feeding programs - creating connections between service and school; 3) Offering skill building and recognition opportunities for youth that present new strengths and interests that can increase connection to school or inspire interest in higher education opportunities.

 

 

We also focus on cooking skills through our CRYJ Kitchen program. Every Tuesday we host CRYJ Kitchen cooking lessons with an emphasis on food safety, knife skills, and making healthy affordable meals. One Saturday each month, we will host Seth Bostick, Executive Chef at the Kalispell Regional Medical Center, to teach youth cooking skills by creating a Harvest of the Month recipe that will then be taste-tested at Kalispell Middle School. The successful recipes will find their way onto District 5 school lunch menus!

 

Central Kitchen Garden

In partnership with Kalispell Middle School staff and students, CRYJ, and community volunteers, we have created a beautiful and bountiful garden at our Central Kitchen. All the produce from this garden goes directly into our school lunches with items featured on our elementary, middle and high school salad bars and in the entrees as well.

Summer and fall of 2015 mark our first season in the garden and, thanks to large amounts of leaf compost and hundreds of hours of work by CRYJ youth, community volunteers, and FoodCorps service members, we have harvested over 475 pounds of produce from this garden.

In the fall and spring, students from Kalispell Middle School have come to the garden to build the garden beds, to fill them with soil and compost, to plant seeds, and to harvest the bounty.

 

 

 

Harvest of the Month

Kalispell District 5 is one of the pilot sites for Montana’s new Harvest of the Month program. Each month we source the seasonal product from Montana farmers, ranchers and processors on our menus and in our cafeterias and also teach lessons based on these items in the classroom.

 

Harvest of the Month Schedule

September - Summer Squash

October - Kale

November - Apples

December - Winter Squash

January - Carrots

February - Beets

March - Beef

April - Grains

May - Lentils

June - Leafy Greens

 

 

Garden and Nutrition Lessons

Over the years that we’ve had FoodCorps service members, they have taught garden and nutrition lessons in almost all of of our schools across the district. This year, our garden and nutrition lessons will be focused at Hedges Elementary School, Elrod Elementary School and Kalispell Middle School.

Local Purchasing

Our food service team, under the direction of Food Service Director Jennifer Montague, spends about thirty percent of the food service budget locally by purchasing Montana beef, lentils, flour, fruits and vegetables.

 

Meet our service members, past and present!

Whitney Pratt, Current Service Member

“For me, growing food has always been a way to heal, learn, and grow, and I hope to be able to pass this on to youth to help them develop the self-confidence, skills, and drive to do whatever brings them joy.”

 

Returning for a second year of service in Montana, Whitney is excited to head from the North Shore Compact to the Kalispell School District. Her first year of service at North Shore Compact helped her grow in a number of ways, from improving her classroom management techniques to learning how to become part of a new community—and discovering that broccoli doesn’t grow well in the heat. Her future goals drive her service this year. Aspiring to work on a farm or garden committed to working with at-risk and adjudicated youth, she is serving with the Kalispell School District and the Center for Restorative Youth Justice. She is eager to move closer to her goal by continuing to learn to be a better farmer, teacher, and community member.

 

Jessica Manly, 2013-2015

Jessica served two years with FoodCorps in the Kalispell Public Schools, expanding nutrition education and school garden programs, and increasing procurement of healthy, local foods for the school cafeterias. She collaborated with other Western Montana schools and organizations to improve cooperative purchasing and processing through a USDA Farm to School Grant in partnership with Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center and Western Montana Growers' Co-op.
 
 

Katie Wheeler, 2011-2013

My name is Katie Wheeler and for the past two years I have been Kalispell Public Schools’ FoodCorps Service Member  working to fulfill the mission of providing K-12 students with the opportunity to have ‘an enduring relationship with healthy food. Throughout my time here, I have had the great pleasure of working closely with KPS Food Service Director, Jennifer Montague. Together we’ve done a lot. We’ve built a school garden at Elrod and turned the Fruit & Vegetable Snack Program into a three-day-a-week educational experience for our elementary students. We’ve infused the local economy with more than $100,000 by purchasing local beef, bread, fruits, vegetables, and grains for our cafeterias.

I am sad to say that my time here is coming to a close. These two years have been more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined because this community has taken me in and made me one of its own, for which I will forever be thankful. Finishing up this service is bittersweet as I look forward with sheer excitement to what is down the road for me. I hope to stay in touch with you all after my departure back to my family on the east coast, and can be reached via email at katie.t.wheeler@gmail.com.