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Senator Carolyn Laine and Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson visited Fridley High School on October 11, 2018 and learned first-hand how a state grant awarded to Fridley Public Schools in 2018 is making a difference in food preparation for students. Laine and Frederickson’s visit to Fridley included representatives from the Minnesota Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, Anoka County SHIP (Statewide Health Improvement Partnership) program, and locally grown produce vendors The Good Acre and Pine Tree Apple Orchard.
The AGRI (Agriculture, Growth, Research, and Innovation) Farm to School grant works with Minnesota school districts that process and serve agricultural products from local growers. The grant, which was written by the Anoka County SHIP program, helps purchase updated equipment, pay for additional training and develop policies. The Department of Agriculture awarded the district $17,924. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Center for Prevention contributed an additional $11,113. Fridley was able to provide a cash match of $6,811.44, to make the total $35,848.87 to complete the project, which also included installation costs.
For Fridley High School, the funds enabled the purchase of some much-needed equipment: a Rational combi oven, a Robot-Coupe food processor, and storage bins for prepped foods. Mary Mueller, Director of Nutritional Services at Fridley Public Schools, told the visitors how the modern devices have improved the high school’s ability to serve students.
“It’s made the work flow more efficient,” Mueller said of the combi oven, which is used to quickly heat and steam food in large scale. “The end product is higher quality; it retains the nutrients more. We no longer have to cook meats, freeze them, then thaw and reheat them the next morning.”
“I’m really excited to see this new equipment in action,” Commissioner Frederickson said of the purchases from the grant. “It cuts down handling time and it’s wonderful to see the nutritional services staff enjoying these new tools.”
Senator Laine agreed. “You can’t expect people to serve hundreds of children unless they have the equipment to cook effectively,” she said. “This oven can cook turkey overnight so that it’s tender and ready to go... it’s amazing.”
The tour also coincided with the Great Lakes Apple Crunch, a movement throughout the Upper Midwest where people bite into an apple at noon in a united salute to support local farmers, grow healthy eaters, and build strong communities. Last October, over 1.5 million students, children, teachers and good food supporters across the region joined in. Bill Jacobson of Pine Tree Apple Orchard was on hand with a box of fresh Haralson and SweeTango apples. He led a group of high schoolers in taking a bite together.
Jacobson’s orchard is the district’s vendor for fresh apples. The visit was his first opportunity to personally step into a Fridley school and meet the students who enjoy his family-owned produce on a daily basis.
“We’ve been working with Fridley Schools since 2010 and it’s been a great partnership,” he said. “It’s so rewarding to see our apples ending up in the schools. We’re happy to be a part of it!”
The group ate a school lunch in the high school cafeteria. As they were introduced to the nutritional staff who prepared the food, the visitors broke into applause in appreciation for the quality of food offered to students and staff.
Senator Laine was impressed with the menu. “This is incredible,” she said. “All kids should have access to fresh foods like this. The students look happy. It’s wonderful.”
Commissioner Frederickson, who grew up in a farming family, was also pleased with what’s being offered to Fridley students for lunches.
“The more we change, the more we go back to how it used to be [serving locally grown food instead of mass produced, packaged foods],” he said. “There’s a new focus on local foods. Schools benefit, and I firmly believe the kids benefit from trying new things.”
For Maggie Maggio, who has a dual role as both a high school nutrition teacher and a district nutrition coordinator, the opportunity to have local growers and state representatives learn about Fridley’s food program was educational all around.
“It’s not just us here that care about what the kids eat and what they learn,” she said. “It was great to show the quality of meals we are able to serve every day.”
Photo above: (from left to right) Fridley Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kim Hiel, Pine Tree Apple Orchard owner Bill Jacobson, Senator Carolyn Laine, Fridley Public Schools Director of Nutritional Services Mary Mueller and Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson.
Left photo: Fridley Public Schools Director of Nutritional Services Mary Mueller shows the group how the Robot-Coupe food processor operates. The Robot-Coupe was purchased from the AGRI Farm to School grant that was awarded to Fridley Public Schools earlier this year. Right photo: Bill Jacobson, who owns Pine Tree Apple Orchard, crunches into a home-grown apple with Fridley High School students during the Great Lakes Apple Crunch. Jacobson's orchard is the district's vendor for fresh apples.
Left photo: Fridley Public Schools' special guests ate in the cafeteria to get a taste of the impressive lunch menu that the Fridley Public Schools Nutritional Services team is able to offer, filled with locally-sourced and healthy choices. Right photo: Fridley Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kim Hiel and Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture Whitney Place
Fridley Public Schools staff and students are participating in the Fridley Idea Lab, a crowd-based innovation program. We recognize the potential of our employees and students to propose ideas that can lead to new services, new systems, or better efficiencies in the way we work together.
The Fridley Idea Lab gives our staff and students a place to share their ideas with colleagues in an open digital environment. When ideas start to gather broad support, the likelihood that the idea will move forward into the testing and implementation phases increases.
Phase 1: Idea Submission - October 15-26
Put your ideas into the lab!
Ideas are creative and can be implemented in a lean way.
Phase 2: Pair Matrix Voting - October 29-November 5
Vote on ideas - Ideas rise to the top.
Phase 3: Implementation - January 2019
Ideas are implemented - Ideas are finetuned
Fridley Public Schools September Employee of the Month is Trent Wisocki, custodian at the Fridley Community Center (FCC).
Trent, who has been working for the district since January 2018, goes above and beyond to make the FCC a great place to work for staff and a welcoming environment for community members, families and children.
According to Director of Community Education Toni Craft, Trent is a fantastic coworker who has incredible mental organization and who always takes pride in his work.
“Trent is able to see the bigger picture, while also paying close attention to detail,” said Craft. “Witnessing Trent’s ability to analyze, strategize, communicate and work extremely hard and efficiently toward completion of a goal has been inspiring to his coworkers.”
Craft added that Trent played an integral role during construction at the FCC this summer. He brings many skills to his job, which has saved the district money for not having to outsource tasks.
Director or Buildings and Grounds Jason Bichler echoed the same sentiment. “Trent is an extremely hard worker that puts the needs of others before his own,” Bichler said. “He has done a great job learning the building and how the FCC operates. Trent is a great addition to both the FCC team and the custodial team!”
Buildings and Grounds Coordinator Alex Winn added that Trent works hard to ensure that the FCC operates smoothly.
“He is always making the FCC an inviting place for students, staff, and the community,” said Winn.
Congratulations, Trent, and keep up the great work!
Fridley High School (FHS) students in the Theory of Knowledge class attended the Westminster Town Hall Forum which featured Clint Watts who spoke about his new book titled Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News.
Watts is a former FBI agent whose research and writing focuses on terrorism, counterterrorism, the influence of social media and Russian disinformation. According to FHS Theory of Knowledge teacher Tim Leistikow, the discussion at the forum fit well with the class’s current unit on ethics, and how language, emotion and reason impact the choices we make relative to social media.
FHS senior Lucy Kuempel’s question was asked out of hundreds submitted to the speaker. Lucy asked about Watts’ “preference bubble” and how it affects him. In his book, Watts discusses the issues with preference bubbles and how they can be problematic by causing individuals to fall into tribalism. Watts responded that he always asks himself the question, “How would I know if I am wrong?” and if he can’t answer it, then he knows that he is in a bubble.
Leistikow explained that attending the forum was a great experience for his students, as they will be creating their own presentation at the end of the Theory of Knowledge course. Students will identify a real life situation and create a question based on the situation they choose to explore.
“I really liked the forum because they got to see someone presenting for 20 minutes about a topic, then fielding questions about their ideas,” said Leistikow. He added that each semester, he tries to have his students attend at least one forum, depending on speakers in the area at the time.
Theory of Knowledge is a required subject in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The class is designed to provide students the opportunity to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. Students gain a greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions, as well as developing an appreciation of the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives.