Rachelle's Blog from Helena - Service & Summer: Preparing for the Final Stretch

     When reflecting on my service term thus far, it is evident that much has happened over the last eight months. However, one of the more rewarding experiences for me has been working with the Harvest of the Month program at Helena Middle School. Harvest of the Month is a program that showcases local foods in schools by bringing a taste test into classrooms and cafeterias, along with providing educational lessons on the importance of eating a variety of foods and eating locally. The students at Helena Middle School have been able to try many foods they would not have typically been exposed to at school, like fresh, roasted beets, lentil hummus, and farro. One hesitant student that mustered the courage to try farro (an ancient grain) exclaimed, “They should serve this in school lunches!”

     Harvest of the Month has also given students the opportunity to participate in Iron Chef competitions, in which a different class competes each month to prepare the featured food in a unique and tasteful way. Pictured here is a photo of the students during the beef month, serving beef tacos. The winning team of the chef competition gets to serve their recipe to their peers when it is showcased in the cafeteria. We hope that the program will continue next year and spread to other schools as well.

     Meanwhile, and on other fronts, I have been busy getting ready for the start of the Summer Meal Program. I am working towards recruiting volunteers and organizing activities for the various summer meal sites, while preparing for the arrival of our NCCC team! The NCCC team will be a great help in marketing and promoting the summer program, while also serving as volunteers and keeping the kids engaged. Our most exciting summer news is that we will be launching a brand new, custom-made food trailer this summer, with help from sponsorships from the Treacy Foundation, No Kid Hungry, and Helena Public Schools. The food trailer is allowing us to expand our reach by increasing the number of operating open sites from 7 to 11. We are excited to see the impact it has on the number of children that have access to meals in the summer!