Comox Valley students are learning about the benefits of healthy eating.

School District 71 is developing a farm to school strategy.

The goal is to bring healthy, local and sustainable food, as well as food education, to Comox Valley Schools.

Coordinator Jenn Meilleur said students aren’t the only ones benefiting from the program.

“The beauty of this program is that it does help the kids in terms of improving nutrition and health and wellness, and bringing (a) more hands-on learning experiences to the school, but at the same time it also helps farmers by connecting them more closely with their local community and providing more economic opportunities, as well.”

Farm to School is a relatively new approach in Canada and the valley. 

Farm to Cafeteria Canada (F2CC) and the Social Planning and Research Council (SPARC) of British Columbia developed the position to help valley students access good nutrition.

Locally, school salad bars and food programs such as Breakfast Clubs have been the primary focus. 

Some schools are working together while other initiatives are run independently. 

Meilleur said everyone is excited about the program.

“We get to bring together a pretty broad group of people from across the Comox Valley together to work on it, so there’s a lot of passion and excitement,” she said.

She said at the district level, the program ties in really nicely to the strategic priorities that it has laid out.

“They have a really beautiful sustainability plan and there’s actually a ton already happening at many schools throughout the Comox Valley so we’re really building on a growing momentum.”

On Feb. 19, Meilleur and Lush Valley executive director Maurita Prato brought together key stakeholders who the district says, “have been instrumental in growing a healthy food program in some district schools.”

Participants discussed what that framework could look like and then mapped out the primary focus for a local food program. 

“We covered a lot of ground and I think that we have a really inspiring vision and some good momentum building in a few key areas. I am proud of what this group created and very excited about our next steps,” Meilleur said. 

“We do this work with a focus on sustainability, social justice and a collective action toward reconciliation. We are part of the global climate action movement.”

In the coming weeks, Meilleur will be creating a report about the Feb. 19 meeting, to share with participants and those interested in being involved and supporting the Comox Valley Farm to School movement.