Food Connects is excited to welcome Michelle Pinter-Petrillo to their team as their new Farm to School Coordinator. Michelle is the third Farm to School team member and will support Farm to School teams in the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union, Windham Central Supervisory Union, and Springfield School District.
Michelle, a native of Springfield, VT, comes to Food Connects with a variety of experience in teaching and getting people excited about cooking food. Michelle has worked in a wide range of schools—both in rural and urban school districts. Most recently, she designed and taught garden, nutrition, and food justice education in public schools in Oakland, CA. She also served as a private chef, culinary school instructor, and teaches online under her brand, That Vegetable Lady.
“I am really excited about the opportunity to serve as part of a network to support schools, farmers, and local organizations working in communities around this region,” says Michelle. “Teaching our students about the people who grow, prepare, and serve the food on their plate not only impacts their lifelong health but also their potential to continue the tradition of farming and food production in our area.”
The Farm to School team is particularly excited about Michelle’s varied experiences and perspective. Michelle is eager to push the team to think about how the topic of food can be used to teach anti-racism, body positivity, team building, and connect youth with community service.
“Michelle comes to the team with a strong skill set and new experiences,” says Conor Floyd, Food Connects Farm to School Program Manager. “From her time with Food Corps and working as a nutrition consultant, she has the knowledge and resources to jump into supporting teachers and School Nutrition Professionals. We're excited to have her fresh perspective as the program enters its next stage of growth and we begin to offer more professional development workshops.”
Michelle is proud to be part of the local food movement and her understanding of how it intersects with education will be an asset to the Farm to School team. “It is not just about getting kids to try a new type of vegetable or as simple as buying local products,” says Michelle. “Feeding students nutritious food in public school is the foundation of a democracy and it affects hunger, health, the economy, the environment, and everything in between.”
Food Connects is an entrepreneurial non-profit that delivers locally produced food as well as educational and consulting services aimed at transforming local food systems. The Food Hub aggregates and delivers from over 70 local farms and food producers to over 140 buyers in southeast Vermont, southwest New Hampshire, and western Massachusetts. Their educational services focus Farm to School programming. Acknowledged as a statewide leader, the program supports over 30 schools to increase local food purchasing, school meal participation, and food, farm, and nutrition education. Together these core programs contribute to a vibrant local economy by increasing local food purchases by schools and improving students’ nutrition and academic performance. Additionally, Food Connects is frequently hired to provide leadership and consulting services for efforts aimed at transforming local food systems in the New England region.