The Brentwood Union Free School District was chosen as one of several countrywide recipients for a chunk of $4.8 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stimulate students' knowledge and interest in fresh foods and healthy eating.
The $44,361 "farm-to-school" grant going to Brentwood will help students from prekindergarten through 12th grade learn the science behind healthy growing and nutrition. They will also take part in a plan to develop school gardens and appreciation for locally sourced foods, according to a news release from the school district.
Brentwood Superintendent Levi McIntyre in a statement noted district students' coursework will coincide with the project, including chemistry and environmental classes where they are learning about water, soil and fertilizers and the impact on the environment. Student in food and consumer science classes are "experiencing connections between what is learned in the classroom and its application in kitchens."
"We are exceptionally pleased to receive this Farm-to-School grant from the USDA. This grant will enrich our students and assist educators as they to continue to integrate the academic curriculum with practical application in the field of agriculture," McIntyre said. "Through this grant students will know and understand the importance of agriculture in our economy and in personal health. In addition, they will experience pride in promoting locally grown produce."
The district hopes the grant will also rejuvenate an interest in farming, which has seen a decline in parts of Long Island over the past several decades, especially in areas where farmland has been developed into shopping centers and housing.
"Many children do not have the opportunity to experience the full scope of how our food supply reaches our tables," Nancy Padrone, Brentwood school district's food service director, said in a statement. "With this grant we can begin to demonstrate the farming process to our students and the impact it has on their lives, health and the world around them. Developing an understanding of the food supply will encourage children to make better food choices."