Milford students celebrate National Farm to School month with corn shucking

MILFORD — Some city students got a feel for farming this past week.

Pumpkin Delight Elementary School held its first-ever corn shucking event on Tuesday, all part of its effort to expose students to the importance of farming and celebrate National Farm to School Month.

"This event is part of several events across the state happening for CT-Grown-for-Kids-Week, where students are celebrating locally grown food served in the cafeteria and efforts to connect students to hands-on food education," said Eileen Faustich, director of Milford Food Services. "Local corn for those events was provided by Bordua Farm in South Windsor with support from Put Local on your Tray."

According to the National Farm to School Network, October is National Farm to School month, a time to celebrate the connections happening all over the country between children and locally grown food.

"When instruction, food, and fun intersect in the form of an event like this, it's magic," said Pumpkin Delight School Principal Sherrod McNeill.

"Our students loved every minute of it," McNeill added. "Beyond the 'fun' element of it, though, I think the students really loved learning about the corn, how it grows, where it came from, and then actually got to help prepare it for lunch. So it was a win-win."

During Tuesday's event, fourth and fifth graders at Pumpkin Delight Elementary School participated in the corn shucking competition and a relay race event during their physical education period.

The students were divided into two teams, and, at the whistle, the first student would run to the corn table, select and shuck one ear, dispose of the husks, place the chucked corn on another table and then race back to the next student on their team.

"Based on the cheering that was going on, I know this was a home run for everyone involved," said McNeill.

The cafeteria staff cleaned, cooked, and served the shucked corn during Tuesday's lunch waves.

"This event, and others like it, serve as a through-line for kids," said Faustich. "In many busy families, kids may never have actually shucked an ear of corn, like today, so they've never really had a reason to think, 'where does this food come from?'

"As we work through the growing seasons here in Connecticut," Faustich added, "we will continue to implement other 'hands-on' activities so kids learn not only where their food comes from but also how to prepare it and then actually taste food that comes directly from our local farms."

Faustich and McNeill said they make their work with students involve lessons on nutrition to help them understand why healthy eating is essential.

"We are always happy to support our local farms in Connecticut," said Faustich. "For us, the National Farm to School project honors that support where everyone wins."