Partnership helps Peel board take lead in using local, sustainable and Greenbelt food

Toronto April 29, 2009 - EcoSource is helping Peel District School Board students learn about the importance of enjoying local, sustainable food through a partnership that began in 2007. More than 30 schools in the Peel board are working with EcoSource through its Youth and Local Food program, which aims to connect teachers and students with local farmers. As part of the program, EcoSource is helping secondary schools source local food for their hospitality programs and promote their local catering service. Students participate in EcoSource’s local food workshops in the classroom and on Greenbelt farms where students have the opportunity to plant and harvest food and to learn about local food production.

On April 29, hospitality students at Turner Fenton Secondary school in Brampton demonstrated how sustainable foods from the Greenbelt can be used for healthy meals and snacks in their local catering program. Representatives from EcoSource, the Peel District School Board and the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation (the funder of this program) were on hand to provide details about this unique project.

"Schools and the board are very interested in pursuing green alternatives," says Ruth Thompson, vice-chair of the board. "We are on the verge of adopting a new environmental policy, which includes a commitment to using local food whenever possible. We welcome the support and expertise of EcoSource as we work towards increasing the environmental sustainability of our schools and workplaces."

Chef Randal Myers and culinary arts students at Turner Fenton Secondary School prepared fine dining entrees using local Greenbelt foods. Entrees included roasted lamb shank with a ragout of cranberry beans and spring vegetables and pan-fried rainbow fillet with a spring succotash. Featured ingredients included produce from Greenfields Organic Farm in Campbellville and goat cheese from Woolwich Dairy, Orangeville, both in the Greenbelt. This fine local food catering is now available for events in Peel through Turner Fenton’s hospitality program, as part of this program.

Lea Ann Mallett, Executive Director of EcoSource said “EcoSource is thrilled to partner with the Peel District School Board on our Youth and Local Food initiative. We believe that students are hungry both for healthy local foods and for the knowledge that local foods are superior environmentally and economically. We give the PDSB great credit for joining us in this groundbreaking work.”

EcoSource’s comprehensive program covers all aspects of local food in schools, from educating students within the classroom to experiencing the farms first-hand with field trips to initiatives to bring local sustainable Greenbelt food into Peel’s elementary, middle and secondary schools. 

Jennifer Story, Program Manager of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation stated “The mandate of the Greenbelt Foundation is to promote the many benefits of the Greenbelt and to support the Greenbelt’s many farmers. This initiative is a great example of an innovative partnership to both support the Greenbelt and promote the value of local sustainable and Greenbelt foods to a large engaged audience.”

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For a PDF of this Press Release click here.

Background:

The Peel board serves more than 150,000 students in kindergarten to grade 12. Operating 235 schools in the municipalities of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, the Peel board is the largest employer in Peel. The board's annual budget is $1.2 billion. For more information, visit the board's website at www.peelschools.org.

EcoSource is an innovative environmental organization providing education programs in Peel and throughout the province to more than 20,000 youth and their families each year (www.ecosource.ca).

The project is funded by a grant from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. Wrapping around the Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt is 1.8 million acres of potential to make Ontario, and the earth, a better place. Encompassing the Niagara Escarpment, the Oak Ridges Moraine, Rouge Park, hundreds of rural towns and villages and some 7,000 farms, it is home to some of the most valuable agricultural land in Canada (www.greenbelt.ca).

For further information, please visit www.ecosource.ca/youthandlocalfood.

Contact: Lea Ann Mallett, EcoSource, tel.: (905) 274-6222 (office), 416-803-9371 (cell) Email: lmallett@ecosource.ca

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