CLARKSBURG -- When students left the cafeteria of Clarksburg Elementary School on Tuesday, they had the taste of spaghetti squash, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin bread fresh in their minds.
They also had a better understanding that not all food comes from the grocery store.
As part of Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week, which is conducted through the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, students in kindergarten through second grade spent their lunch period sampling food made from pumpkins and spaghetti squash grown at Many Forks Farm on River Road. They also got to meet the farm's owner, Sharon Wyrrick, who joined them for the meal.
"Generating the excitement and enthusiasm is the first step in enabling further collaboration between farms and schools to happen," Wyrrick said.
The decision to incorporate foods made from pumpkins and spaghetti squash into the school's lunches had to do with it being the season when those vegetables are harvested, and that they fit into the school's lunch menus, which are planned in advance, she said.
They also wanted to focus the initiative on students in kindergarten through second grade because they're still forming their opinions about food, she said.
On Sept. 14, Wyrrick met with the students to talk about the farm and to introduce them to the vegetables that they would sample a few days later.
"We had a little spaghetti squash demonstration," she said. "I came
Principal Linda Reardon said the program was made possible by the Mass in Motion grant the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition received earlier this year.
"It's helping us get off the ground and put some initiatives into place," she said.
Those initiatives are essential as the school begins to incorporate the new Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards into its operations, she said.
"The standards focus on having us learn a different way of thinking about food, and Mass in Motion helps with that," she said.
One way the grant program will help in the future is with the clearing of walking paths in the woods behind the school, she said.
Amanda Chilson, Mass in Motion project coordinator, said the grant, which was received from the Massa chusetts Department of Public Health, is for a period of five years and aims at obesity prevention initiatives in the communities of Clarksburg, Adams and North Adams.
"Part of the plan is connecting schools with local farms," she said.
To reach Meghan Foley, email firstname.lastname@example.org.