Left: Zach Paige, WELRP Farm Manager, leading a Farm to School program lesson covering apples, pumpkins, and squash at Naytahwaush Community Charter School. The kids grew pumpkins at school and made pumpkin pies and pumpkin pancakes. Photo courtesy of the WELRP 2013 annual report. Right: In the WELRP garden, they are growing Arikara squash, 20 different heritage bean varieties (including Jacob's cattle and Arikara yellow), Bear Island Flint corn and Saskatchewan White Flint corn. Photo by Angelo Baca.
Excerpt below from the blog, From Garden Warriors to Good Seeds: Indigenizing the Local Food Movement by Elizabeth Hoover
Since 2008, WELRP has been working to connect local farmers with schools on the reservation, in order to provide healthier lunches for students, and to support the local economy. When they first began, the program focused first on the Pine Point School, where 98% of kids qualified for free or reduced price lunches. Since starting the program, WELRP has extended it to the Nay Tah Waush Charter School located in the northern part of the reservation and the Circle of Life Academy located in the village of White Earth in the center of the reservation. The program works to bring high-fiber nutrient-dense foods like wild rice, hominy corn and traditional squash to the kids’ diets, as well as to keep food dollars spent within the community, rather than on nation-wide food distributors.
Initially WELRP processed much of the produce in their USDA certified kitchen and then delivered the food to schools, but in the past two years they’ve found it easier to connect the farmers directly with the schools, only occasionally still processing food like frozen sweet corn in the WELRP kitchen. In addition to connecting farmers with the school WELRP staff went into classrooms, sometimes with local farmers, to educate the children about local food, and also worked with the school kitchen staff to replace some of the foods being served with local vegetables. In 2013 the WELRP farm to school program got 2,000 pounds of fresh produce into local schools. (Learn more about setting up a farm to school program by reading A Guide for Creating a Farm to School Program in an Indigenous Community.)
Learn more about the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Farm to School Grant Program.