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Growing Minds is a program of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food.

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Burke County Public Schools Cafeteria Taste Tests

Read about how ASAP's Growing Minds Dietetic Intern, Katti Carroll, is getting students in Burke County excited about local fruits and vegetables!

Hello friends of farm to school, Katti, the Dietetic Intern here. I’ve been working with ASAP’s Growing Minds team during my community nutrition rotation. One project that I have been involved with is a three year grant project, funded by Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, which allows Growing Minds to provide local food cafeteria taste tests within five elementary schools of Burke County, NC.

The local food featured in taste tests this month has been apples from Creasman Farms in Henderson County, NC. Emily, the Growing Minds Intern, other WCU Dietetic Interns, and myself have been preparing a simple Apple Carrot Salad for the kids to sample. They receive an “I tried local apples” sticker if they are willing to try it, and are able to cast their vote afterwards, revealing whether they loved it, liked it, or will maybe try it next time. We leave the teachers with recipe cards to distribute to the students for them to take home. This allows us to integrate local food experiences between each of the three C’s- cafeteria, classroom, and community.

As a future Registered Dietitian it’s exciting to see students trying (and loving!) fresh and healthy local foods. This experience has shown me how something as simple as a cafeteria taste test can be impactful. We are not only influencing the future food choices of kids, but we are starting conversations within the community- teachers, cafeteria staff, and parents.

Being raised on a farm, I believe that having a deeper connection to our food is key to increasing our appreciation and desire to consume nutritious whole foods. Understanding where our food comes from, how it is grown and harvested, and simply being connected, can truly impact our decisions on what we choose and desire to eat. Being connected could look like planting your own garden, supporting local farmers that come to the market, or, just maybe, it’s connecting a picture of the local farmers who grew the apples to the recipe that you tasted during school lunch today.

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