93% of students who attend the Stefanik Elementary School receive free or reduced lunch, more than any other school in the Chicopee district. ChicopeeFRESH, a local, healthy food initiative was launched in the fall of 2014 in order to teach students about the importance of local, healthy, and sustainable foods.
The initiative has worked its way into the cafeterias at Stefanik Elementary School, serving up delicious, nutritious “home-cooked” meals made with produce and meats from local farms. UMass Dining has partnered with Chicopee in their efforts, collaborating on menu design and sharing purchasing insights with Chicopee Food Services.
The produce harvested from the garden is used in school-wide taste tests conducted by FoodCorps Service Member Greta Schwachman, as well as cafeteria meals.
In November of 2015, the UMass Amherst Permaculture Initiative was awarded a $3,500 grant from Women for UMass Amherst to work with school staff and FoodCorps Service Members on expanding and developing the Stefanik Elementary School Garden.
Xochiquetzal Salazar, a Sustainable Food & Farming senior and Student Garden Coordinator for UMass Permaculture has acted as a consultant to the Stefanik Elementary School Garden this past semester, along with local food consultant Ryan Harb. Together, they have organized design charrettes with the garden's stakeholders, prepared budgets, developed planting and harvesting schedules, and organized events to invite UMass students to positively impact their greater community through this project.
Interested in getting involved? Want to learn more about UMass Permaculture's partnership with the Stefanik Elementary School Garden? Contact UMass Permaculture here.