Farm to school pic

Rob Levis, left, Vinton Shellsburg Community School board president, and Eileen Schmidt, VS Farm to School program director, hold a certificate designating the Iowa school district as one of 7000 across the country as a recipient of a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. The pair are flanked by board members (l to r) Sue Gates, Kathy Van Steenhuyse, Becky Williams, Mike TImmerman, Tom Burke and Jake Fish.

VINTON — Months of planning and hard work has paid off for the Vinton Shellsburg Farm to School Chapter.

During last Monday evening’s meeting of the Vinton Shellsburg Community school board, Kyle Koeppen, District Superintendent and Eileen Schmidt, shared the chapter would be a recipient of a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Vinton Shellsburg along with Union and Waverly-Shell Rock Community School Districts, are receiving funds as part of a USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant,” Schmidt told the board.

Schmidt Farm to School Leader/Project Director, explained that the district had originally received a planning grant and now working with the other two districts were to apply for and receive a $50,000 implementation grant.

“This will allow each school district to work and increase the amount of local produce that is used in the district,” she said.

“This is very exciting for everyone involved with the project,” Schmidt told the board. “We have a very good core group of people committed to helping get fresh, local foods into the schools to help kids eat better.

“But we are also trying to include the local farmers to help them, and to help the local economy.”

Providing an update of the project, Schmidt explained that the VS district was able to complete a Farm to School Planning grant in December 2019. The two-year grant was finished within 18 months due to strong support from the district and the community.

“Carolyn Frazier (former director of the program) got us so far ahead,” Schmidt told the board.

Frazier’s work helped the district expand and work with other school districts.

“We are working on a tool kit that could then be used by any school district as a way to get this type of program started in their area,” Schmidt told the board.

Locally the implementation grant reaches families in five Iowa counties and could potentially service over 4,700 students meals using locally grown ingredients.

Nationally, Schmidt told the board that the USDA awarded grants to 7000 schools across the country. “There will be 2.5 million students who can benefit from the program,” she added.

In other business:

-Participation in the summer lunch program dropped during the month of June.

Karen Ackman, VS Food Service Director, shared that there were numerous factors that affected those numbers.

“Communities have ‘opened up’ more, parents are going back to work and daycares are feeding those children,” she said.

During May there were 27, 830 meals served and in June 14,938.

The last day for the program will be July 31.

- Koeppen shared updates with the building summer projects.

Shellsburg:

The ceiling tile project is wrapping up with both LED light upgrades and new tile, new flooring in four classrooms along with ADA accessibility have begun with new sinks/faucets/LED lights and ceiling tile;

Tilford:

The 4th grade HVAC project is progressing ahead of schedule with an estimated completion date of August 1.

The exterior painting and tuck-pointing is being completed and the new windows have arrived but have not yet been installed.

Middle School:

Waiting for the new application of floor epoxy for the student center area and the HVAC upgrade has been installed for the library and the computer server air conditioning has been installed and is up and running.

High School: A few roof repairs have been done to the membrane of the roof by Pella Roofing.

Koeppen also shared that hand sanitizing stations have been installed across the district.

“Eight new touchless water bottle filling stations have been ordered and will be installed,” he explained.

“Custodians are finishing stripping and waxing hard surface flooring across the district,” he added.

-Koeppen shared that the old garage that was adjacent to the bus barn has been removed.

The district received two sealed bids for the building and accepted a bid from Ross Coder.

“It has already been removed,” he added.