From farm to table to school

Hathaway students learn about food cycle, nutrition at first-ever Student Well-Being Fair

Ellen Ives, educator for sustainability and waste reduction from Waste Connections, talks to Hathaway Elementary students about composting and recycling during the April 20 Well-Being Fair at Hathaway.

Sharon Whalen, from Duck Delivery Produce, talks about the ways fennel can be added into students diet while they pass around and smell a bulb of the vegetable, during the Well-Being Fair at Hathaway Elementary School on April 20.

Hathaway Elementary School students planted seeds that will develop into green beans while also growing their knowledge about nutrition and the food cycle during the first Student Well-Being Fair.

The students rotated through four stations, where they explored topics of nutrition, recycling and sustainability, plants and their nutrients, food and local garden communities. The purpose of the April 20 event was to promote good nutrition and get students thinking about the path that food takes from the field to the table, said Mark Jasper, nutrition services director for the Washougal School District.

The event also was a way for students to celebrate Earth Day and understand the importance of the water bottle filling dispensers that the school will receive through a grant, Jasper said.

Hathaway Principal Sarika Mosley said the elementary school has a healthy environment and the fair was an extra opportunity for students to experience good nutrition and healthy activities.

At the community station, Sharon Whalen, a representative from Duck Delivery Produce, discussed local and regional areas in the Northwest that are famous for their produce.

Whalen’s station had a table covered by vegetables and fruit.

The students were able to smell and hold vegetables like fennel and ginger to become familiar with them.

“The kiddos get to see what a big plantain looks like, and they think that it’s a rotten banana, but they discover that it’s something from a tropical rainforest,” Mosley said. “And it’s so good for you, and nutritious and tasty.”

Sarah Sterling, a registered dietitian, taught students about the five major food groups and how to eat a more nutritious diet by incorporating a minimum of three of the food groups at the nutrition station.

When students entered the environment corner, they saw a few familiar items, like milk cartons from lunch and a big green composting bin.

Ellen Ives, waste reduction specialist from Clark County Department of Solid Waste, taught the children how to separate their items after lunch as well as the benefits of composting and recycling.

As an activity, the students were then able to plant a green bean in soil to be taken home with the possibility of starting their own garden, Mosley said.

Kayla Lynn, Sodexo nutrition services director for the Camas School District, and Delores Tesky, a chef from the Salem School District in Salem, Oregon, explained to students that their bodies need vitamins and minerals to grow healthy and strong — and that plants also need nutrients, which they get from fertilizer.

“(The plants) show the cycle of how things grow and the process,” Mosley said.

She added that the stations allowed students to see the full cycle of food and be taught by real nutritionists and community members.

Jasper, who coordinated the event with Mosley, staff and volunteers, reminded the students at the fair that when they go to a grocery store, the food doesn’t just show up and that there’s a lot of work behind it.

“This gives them recognition of what goes on behind it and also what goes on after it, and how important food is in all aspects of our lives,” Jasper said.

Mosley said she would love for the Well-Being Fair to become a new tradition at Hathaway.