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Ojibwe School celebrates Farm to School program achievements

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Olympic runner and Minnesota Grown spokeswoman Carrie Tollefson visited the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School on Friday, Feb. 28, as part of a celebration of the school’s Farm to School Program, Abinoojinyag Gitigaan (“Children’s Garden”).

The school won a statewide essay contest for having the most comprehensive Farm to School program. Their large school gardens supply the school cafeteria, the third- and fourth-grade classes are growing pea shoots in the school’s attached greenhouse for the cafeteria salad bar, and the cafeteria staff have begun to source more locally grown foods through their regular distributor as well as direct sales from local farmers. The Fond du Lac Ojibwe School also provides gardening and cooking classes for students in their after-school programming and during the summer break.

Tollefson shared a video of the race she won that qualifed her for the 2004 Olympic Games and reminded students they need to fuel up with healthy foods in order to perform their best. She challenged students to do their best at the things they enjoy.

After sharing a story from her youth about beating her older sister in a track race, she told students that the most important thing they can do is be kind to one another. Tollefson’s sister’s encouragement made a strong impact on her life and shaped her decision to continue running. She remains the only student athlete to win five consecutive state championships.

The Ojibwe School staff and students helped decorate the cafeteria to welcome Tollefson, and the cafeteria staff prepared a special meal of squash soup, vegetable soup, fresh vegetable salad, roasted mixed veggies, and two kinds of homemade bread (whole grain and zucchini) for the occasion. Some of the ingredients were harvested from the school gardens and frozen at the beginning of the school year.

The celebration helped remind students to eat healthy and to help showcase the continuing Farm to School activities and honor the students’ contributions to health school meals.