Farm to School coming into Bulkley Valley

A provincial organization that wants to make it easier for children to avoid unhealthy snacks and instead consume local, healthy food, is spreading into communities of the Bulkley Nechako region.

Since 2017, Silverthorne Elementary in Houston has received $2,600 in Farm to School funding, which it has used to buy equipment, utensils and cutlery for its salad bar and breakfast and hot lunch programs.

Farm to School aims to source schools with healthy food produced by local farmers, or provide funding for schools to help them prepare nutritious meals for their students.

Since 2007, the provincially-funded scheme – under the Provincial Health Services Authority – has helped more than 160 schools and reached almost 30,000 students across British Columbia, as representative Margo Peill explained to a meeting of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako on April 4.

Peill is the Northwest Community Animator based in Terrace and her area of responsibility covers the communities between Terrace and Houston.

READ MORE: Farm to School BC launches hub in Terrace

“The vision for Farm to School BC is healthy, local, and sustainable food for all students in B.C. The core goals of Farm to School BC are healthy local food, hands-on learning and school and community connectedness,” she said.

The function of the program depends on the school and it could be schoolyard gardens, harvesting wild and traditional food, salad bars, or breakfast and hot lunch programs.

Its hands-on learning goal takes the form of gardening at school or in greenhouses, kitchen activities and field trips to local farms and foraging.

With school and community connectedness, the program emphasizes the relationship between local farmers, community members and supporting organizations.

“It’s about understanding the resources in each area and understanding how to cultivate those,” Peill said.

In the northwest, nine schools have joined Farm to School since 2014, including schools in Smithers and Telkwa, and the Terrace hub was set up in January of this year.

Two schools in Quesnel, one in Prince George, and one in Vanderhoof receive Farm to School funding.

“A portion of their food is local and grown indoors for their salad bars,” as Richard Han, Provincial Manager with Farm to School BC told Black Press.

Schools that want to join the program can apply for up to $3,500 in grants and that usually goes towards the purchase of cooking infrastructure and equipment, or in some cases fuel for school bus field trips to farms. Top up grants of $1,000 are available for schools that have already received funding.

Ideally, Farm to School would like all schools to receive food from local farms, “but we recognize that in some remote and rural communities there aren’t farms nearby. In the application they have to indicate how the schools would source food locally, for example they would list a local farm. Or they could say they’re going to start a school garden to source food locally,” Han said.

To qualify for the grant, a school should be ready to commit time and resources to making healthy food programs successful.

“Silverthorne is doing a salad bar program, but that takes teacher time and staff support to operate it. It needs a lot of communication and synergy with the different stakeholders. They demonstrated that they were ready to receive it. We want to see schools that have the capacity.”

“We look to see how community is becoming involved and want more people coming together. Then it becomes stronger,” explained Han, who added that farmers who want to provide schools with their produce can co-apply with a school to the program.

No schools in the Burns Lake area have applied to Farm to School yet, but Han and Peill said they hope to bring on more schools in the region between Houston and Prince George.

“There’s a lot of appetite from teachers and parents to encourage healthy eating. We encourage them to be on the lookout for our program and check us out on the website and social media.”

For more information check out Farm to School’s website or Facebook page.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

Just Posted

Renewal plan for 9th to be subject of meeting

District, businesses to consider options

Soup kitchen to be added to Salvation Army’s Houston services

Need for food growing as living costs rise

District of Houston applies for grants

The District of Houston is continuing its policy of pursuing grants from… Continue reading

Houston housing needs surveyed

Results to aid District of Houston planning

Two more needle disposal boxes approved

Will be emptied by health centre staffers

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Statistics Canada says 541 people were charged under the federal Cannabis Act between Oct. 17, 2018 and the end of the year

Fewer people prescribed opioids in B.C., but other provinces lack data: doctors

Patients who began taking opioids were prescribed smaller doses for shorter duration

Electric cello, stolen from vehicle in Williams Lake, returned to U.S. owner

Rita Rice of Texas said she and her husband had given up hope of ever seeing it again

Drop, cover and hold on: Thousands of British Columbians to take part in earthquake drill

This year’s drill comes as scientists announce discovery of ‘stormquakes,’ an earthquake and hurricane

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Frustration and pride in Canada after a year of legal pot

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

West Kelowna business facing charges after six bears killed over littering

A West Kelowna business has been charged for leaving garbage around Lake Okanagan Resort

Most Read