TOWNSHEND, Vt. – The West River Education District’s nutrition program has recently been awarded two equipment grants by the state of Vermont. The Vermont Agency of Education and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets have respectively awarded the program funding for a new walk-in cooler and three blenders to be housed at Leland & Gray Union Middle High School.
Seed2Tray, the school food service and nutrition program for WRED, applied for the grants to further their mission of bringing fresh, locally grown food for free to all students. The director of Seed2Tray, Chris Parker says, “With a cooler area we will be able to grow more produce on our campuses, purchase more local foods from our neighboring farms, and safely make larger batches of soups, sauces, and additional prep that we have not been able to do.”
Similarly, the awarded blenders’ intended use is for smoothies made with Vermont dairy and other locally grown ingredients. Seed2Tray finds smoothies to be an easy way to involve students in their nutrition, both by hosting smoothie naming and making competitions, as well as by learning about the local ingredients that go into a smoothie. Parker also believes he can use the smoothies to influence students to try uncommon ingredients, like kale or spinach.
Smoothies will be offered daily at breakfast for the district’s middle and high school students. Later in the year, they will also be available at lunch as an alternative to the vegetarian entree and offered biweekly to the district elementary schools.