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Press Release

Outdoor Classroom to expand

May. 25, 2018


$10,000 donation from Hannaford will benefit the South Berwick initiative


Outdoor Classroom to expand, share innovative methods with other educators 

South Berwick, Maine -- Central School today announced that its innovative Outdoor Classroom program will receive $10,000 in funding from Hannaford Supermarkets.  The donation will help expand the program and allow the school to share with other educators their experience of integrating locally grown food with classroom instruction.

Central School students regularly plant, maintain, harvest, prep and cook vegetables and fruits from the Outdoor Classroom's hoop house and orchard. Local chefs, prep cooks, nutritionists, administrators, parents and community members participate in the program by teaching children the importance of cooking with fresh, local foods.

"This grant will allow us to be innovative, creative, engaging, meaningful and purposeful as we encourage students to live healthy lives," said Principal Nina D'Aran.

Kathy Gunst, a nationally recognized cookbook author and food journalist, helped found the program in 2010 after attending Michelle Obama’s Lets Move initiative, which challenged chefs across the country to make a difference in their local communities. As part of the program, Gunst spent several years cooking with children and teaching them about growing and eating locally grown food.

On Friday, Gunst joined Hannaford representatives in presenting the donation to school officials and students.  Gunst is a member of the Hannaford Chef's Table, a promotional partnership that includes four local chefs with passion for building community and for inspiring home cooks to make fresh, affordable meals.

"I am thrilled that Hannaford sees the merit in Central School's Outdoor classroom," said Gunst.  "Teaching young children to love fruit and vegetables at an early age, and discover how much fun it can be to grow and cook your own healthy food is some of the most rewarding work of my career."

Using the funds, school officials will encourage parents to cook healthy meals with their children by offering parent/child cooking classes. The school also plans to add a Community Harvest Dinner in the fall that would include sauces, pastas, salad and cobbler made by the students with ingredients from the hoop house and orchard.

"We intend to offer professional development for educators, within our district and beyond, to develop standards-based lessons and units that integrate the outdoor classroom, the hoop house, the orchards and the cooking program," D'Aran said.  "These funds will allow us to purchase items that would support these units such as grow lights, vertical gardens, additional garden beds and an increased variety of fruit trees."

Friday's donation comes in addition to $225,000 in funding for child nutrition in Maine that Hannaford announced recently, also in conjunction with the Hannaford Chef's Table.

"The Outdoor Classroom is a great example of how local people, using locally grown food, can make a difference in children's lives and add to the vibrancy of their community," said Maile Buker, Hannaford Vice President for Marketing.  "We are excited to support these efforts, as part of the Hannaford Chef's Table."

In addition to Gunst, participants in the Hannaford Chef's Table promotion are Kerry Altiero, owner of Café Miranda in Rockland; Ric Orlando, owner of New World Bistro Bar in Albany’s Capital Region; and, David Turin, owner of David’s, David’s Opus 10 in Portland, and David’s 388 in South Portland.