ASAP releases innovative Farm to School resource nationwide

Press release

From ASAP:

ASHEVILLE, NC (December 16, 2013)—Dietetic interns (DIs) across the country now have a tool to help them integrate Farm to School into their studies and future work improving the health of children and adults. ASAP has just released “Addressing Dietetic Internship Competencies Through Local Food and Farm to School,” available for download at growing-minds.org/di . Specifically for universities and DI programs, the resource developed from the nonprofit’s ongoing intensive work with Western Carolina University and Lenoir-Rhyne University. The tool—the first of its kind—makes it easy for students studying to become registered dietitians to meet national Dietetic Internship Core Competencies through local food and Farm to School (F2S) activities.

“We firmly believe that local food education can be one of the best tools in health professionals’ and educators’ toolboxes to introduce and promote healthy eating habits,” says Emily Jackson, director of ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School Program. “We’ve found that after participating in hands-on learning experiences of gardening and cooking with local food, these university students are more likely to integrate local food and F2S into their professional practices.”

It’s that premise that led ASAP to launch their pioneering Local Food and Farm to School Education Project in collaboration with Western Carolina and Lenoir-Rhyne universities. Since 2011, ASAP and partners have worked to integrate local food and F2S experiences and training into the undergraduate and graduate curricula for education, nutrition, and dietetics students. The new resource is a documentation of the success of the project to date. A total of 170 DIs and nutrition undergraduate students have completed ASAP’s comprehensive training. Citing numerous benefits, from unique rotation placement for supervised practice hours to opportunities to be a leader among their peers and in the community, DIs report the training has provided them with hands-on experience in teaching about local food and an understanding of how to work with community partners, skills not always taught in academic programs.

“Our dietetic interns are enthusiastic that they can connect their foundational nutrition knowledge, nutrition education skills, and other components of Farm to School while addressing their competencies,” says Sherry Robison, Western Carolina University’s Dietetic Internship Program director. “The resource shows so much promise in promoting healthy eating behaviors, and we’re excited it’s now available to other universities. Local food education provides a positive impact on the professional preparation of our students, and we know it can and will for students across the country.”

DIs outside of Western North Carolina have already expressed interest and enthusiasm about the resource at its soft release this October at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Houston.

Created with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the new tool aligns local food and Farm to School with competencies for both the Food Service Management Practicum and the Community Nutrition Practicum. For more information and to download, visit growing-minds.org/di . ASAP is also available as a consultant for colleges and universities wishing to establish their own Local Food and Farm to School Education Project. Contact Emily Jackson, emily@asapconnections.org, for details.

[High-resolution photos of Farm to School in action around Western North Carolina are available. For more information, images, or to connect with participating schools, teachers, and farmers, contact Communications Manager Maggie Cramer at maggie@asapconnections.org.]

ABOUT ASAP (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. Growing Minds, ASAP’s Farm to School program, has been in operation for more than a decade, connecting farms and schools and providing children positive experiences with healthy local foods. Experiences include farm field trips, nutrition education, school gardens, and local food in cafeterias. ASAP serves as the Southeast Regional Lead Agency for the National Farm to School Network.

To learn more about Growing Minds, visit growing-minds.org . For information about ASAP’s work, visit asapconnections.org , or call 828-236-1282.


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