On December 17, 2014, Fit Together and Litchfield Hills Food Systems presented East and Forbes Schools with a $3,000 donation for the schools’ Edible School Gardens Program. Their objective is to lay the foundation for sustainable health & wellness programs in Torrington’s public schools. The funds will be used for Garden Coordinator stipends, mentoring learning experiences connecting healthy food choices and the health of the community, the environment and the daily lives of students. The Edible School Garden Program allows students to participate in all aspects of growing, harvesting and preparing nutritious seasonal produce. The more kids are involved in learning by doing, the more likely they are to make healthy eating choices.
The Edible School Garden Program began during the 2013-2014 school year, now entering its second year. Principal Susan Fergussen (East Elementary School) said “Students and their families continued to maintain the garden during this past summer months. At the School’s Open House in September, the students made salsa and zucchini bread with the produce from their garden. They were so proud.” For the 2015 spring season, East School is hopeful to incorporate new raised beds to their garden and obtain a new storage shed.
Fit Together, a community collaborative, was formed in December 2010 with the initial purpose to identify and implement environmental and social improvements in Torrington and Winsted that help make healthy choices, easy choices. Their mission is to build the healthiest kids, families and communities through sustainable strategies that foster healthy eating and active living.
Litchfield Hills food Systems is a Connecticut educational-services public charity, founded in 2007 to develop community-based programs connecting sustainable agriculture, local food, and active healthy lifestyles for kids and families. Their mission is to model and nurture programs that help to produce sustainable healthy communities.
Since 2010, both groups have worked to make positive changes through collaborative efforts. In Feb. 2013 Fit Together worked with Torrington officials to pass the “Right to Farm” ordinance. This ordinance will help conserve and protect agricultural land and to encourage agricultural operations and the sale of local farm products within the city. Thus making fresh, local farm products more accessible to residents. In May of the same year they also worked with city officials to adopt a “Complete Streets” ordinance. A “Complete Streets” resolution was approved by the Torrington City Council in May 2013.
From 2012-2014 Fit Together worked with Torrington Public Schools to develop a new Wellness Policy. In 2013 the Torrington Public Schools achieved Healthy Foods Certification which pays a higher stipend for Free & Reduced meals in exchange for serving healthier options. By the end of 2014, a new school Wellness Policy was approved by the Board of Education.
These positive outcomes are bringing the community a step closer to a healthier lifestyle and demonstrating how a “better together” community efforts can make a positive difference in public policy.
Fit Together and Litchfield Hills Food Systems have donated over $15,000 towards programs in Torrington and Winsted including: Torrington Public School KiDSMARATHON Lap Tracker Program, Nature Day & Edible School Gardens, Winsted School Garden Program, Winsted Veggie of the Week Summer Intern, Healthy Communities Program, KiDSMARATHON Final Mile events and the “5-2-1-0 Early Childcare” Program.
Schools across the nation are using gardens to help children discover where food comes from and to develop healthy eating habits. Some school nutrition programs have found that gardens provide a way for children to become more accepting of new fruits and vegetables. School gardens may be managed by teaching staff, student clubs, or the school nutrition program. Regardless of who is in charge, produce from school gardens can be served safely to students when basic food safety precautions are followed in planting, growing, and harvesting.
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Over 4000 Students from over 250 schools -grades 8 & under- from the Los Angeles Unified School District Beyond the Bell Branch + 1000 Students from the Inland Empire and Chino Hills School District, together with Students from Glendora participated at the Final Mile Celebration at Dodger Stadium on March 8 2015. Together with these students of the KiDSMARATHON ‘in school’ program there were 12,000 family and parents to cheer them on, as they ran their Final Mile of their MARATHON. 25,000 Students started training January 12 to accumulate 25.2 over the period of 8-10 weeks. They ran into Dodger Stadium over a distance of 1.2 miles thereby finishing the Marathon distance to great cheers and applause!
1972 Olympic 1,500 Bronze Medalist and 1983 NYC Marathon Champion Rod Dixon created the KIDS program to encourage children throughout the world to encourage fitness and fight childhood obesity. With programs in New Zealand, Los Angeles and Connecticut already in school systems the KIDS program continues to expand!