A pamphlet titled “Fast Food/Slow Food/Corporate Food/Local Food” can be found in several places around Kennebunk. It’s part of the local foods movement service-learning project that students at The New School completed during the 2010-2011 school year.
Students found that many in their area did not know about local sources for foods. They decided to help their community understand the multiple advantages of supporting local food and farmers.
“People think food comes from grocery stores. Knowing that it comes from your neighbor is better,” said one student. “It seems like it costs more, but it really doesn’t because the money stays in the community and the nutritional value of the food is higher too.”
The New School team sponsored local food dinners and workshops each month. Wolf Pine Farm supplied a lot of the local food and gave the students opportunities to work with their CSA. Other community partners included Red Fox Co-op; Crown of Maine Co-op; Neverdun Farm; a nutritionist; beekeeper; herbalist; gardener and a soap maker.
Students planned the menus for up to 40 people, and ordered and cooked the local food at each dinner. They were knowledgeable hosts. Using a survey, students found that families had become more aware of the benefits of local food.
The local food project expanded beyond the dinners originally planned when they began the project in the fall. The New School holds an annual auction to raise money. When the students heard that parents were planning to sell Italian food at the auction, they volunteered to cook chicken pies, using all local food, instead. They did not like the idea of spending all year learning about and promoting local food and then serving non-local food at a public event. The chicken pies were very successful and they educated the public again about using local foods.
The principal of The New School, Marylyn Wentworth, said, “When a project is really successful, it has unexpected outcomes.” Expanding the local food theme to other school events was just one. The team also went national: four students were videotaped for the Jamie Oliver TV show. “They were so knowledgeable and enthusiastic,” she said