America’s Grow-a-Row’s Virtual Education Program
Shauna Alvarez, our Executive Chef and Programming Lead, provides a glimpse into the exciting programs happening in our on-site Farm to Fork Kitchen this winter.
Did you know that a banana is a berry? Or that in India a mango is a symbol of love? These are two of the fun facts that our K-4 students have learned in our off-season education programs this winter. Every winter America’s Grow-a-Row educators offer lessons and presentations in the community. Despite the restrictions on in-person education necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have managed to continue our education programs this winter AND to expand our audience and lessons. We have developed a brand new virtual education curriculum and have been working with partners old and new to reach as many students as possible with these lessons. Here are some of the highlights of this winter’s virtual education program.
We have continued our long-standing partnerships with East Orange YMCA and Team Walker of Jersey City to deliver nutrition lessons to their K-4 students. Each month the students received a bag of assorted produce at their homes. From AGAR’s Farm to Fork Kitchen, Carla Villatoro and I lead the kids through a virtual lesson, encouraging the kids to use all of their senses to explore each fruit or vegetable. January’s lesson was all about tropical fruits! We brought out our world maps and learned where in the world the fruits grow, how they are planted and harvested, and what vitamins and minerals we can get from them. If you want a pick-me-up on a snowy day in January, I suggest trying a lime with a group of 1st graders! The squeals of delight stayed with us for the rest of the day! And the kids learned how to cut up each fruit and how to combine them into a bright and juicy fruit salsa!
This winter we have expanded our culinary nutrition lessons to include groups of adults in partnership with ShopRite and Hunterdon Medical Center. These lessons include topics such as: what a healthy plate looks like, practical tips for shopping at the grocery store, how to save time and frustration in the kitchen, and shortcuts for making delicious meals.
Finally, we are thrilled to be partnering with the Flemington Area Food Pantry, Partnership for Health, ShopRite, and Hunterdon Medical Center to present the ComMITT Kit program. Every month 50 Hunterdon County families receive a meal kit with a recipe that I’ve developed in our Farm to Fork Kitchen. The ingredients for the recipe are provided by ShopRite, with fresh produce coming from AGAR in season. All of the participants have school-aged kids at home, and the recipes are made with them in mind. We include tips for getting kids into the kitchen, ways to include more vegetables in your family meals, and culinary tricks to make getting dinner on the table a little easier. You can check out my instructional video for February’s ComMITT Kit meal here. Previous month’s videos are available on America’s Grow-a-Row’s YouTube Channel!