When you walk into B.C. Cate Elementary School, it is immediately apparent how loved and valued the Kids’ Farmers Market is in this community. “In the winter, we set up the tables with produce in here,” Principal James Nolan explains. “And in the springtime, we do it out in the garden. The children have a wonderful time choosing their vegetables, trying foods they might not otherwise eat, and bringing that home to share with their families. Working with the Food Bank to do this in our school has been a great experience.”
In this Montour Falls community, many families struggle with food insecurity and access to nutritious foods. Additionally, the rural Schuyler County area can present transportation barriers for people who want to feed their children healthy foods but may not be able to easily get to a supermarket. B.C. Cate Elementary had been participating in the Food Bank’s BackPack program when they decided to expand their hunger relief efforts to include the Kids’ Farmers Market. Now, on a monthly basis, the Food Bank delivers fresh produce to their campus. The students help set up the market, and then each class takes turns visiting the tables decked out with tomatoes, onions, zucchini, potatoes, and other seasonal, fresh items.
For students, selecting their items and tasting new foods is a fun, joyful learning experience. The second graders utilize practical mathematics and learn about the region in discussions about where the food comes from. For the three- and four-year-olds, the market is an exciting opportunity to test out their knowledge of shapes and colors.
“The Kids’ Farmers Market is an innovative way to get more fresh produce into under-served communities,” says Sarah Keenan, a Programs and Partnerships Coordinator at the Food Bank. “It’s a way to provide food support for all who need it. This is a vibrant part of the school community, accessible to all.”
Indeed, the program is widely enjoyed, as evidenced by the smiles and laughter as students excitedly share their bounty, nourishing bodies and building hunger-free communities in the process.