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Good Food for Oxford Schools receives $5,000 Aramark grant

Good Food for Oxford Schools is the recipient of an Aramark Building Community (ABC)-University of Mississippi Dining grant totaling $5,000.

Grant dollars are intended to provide resources for the purchase of materials related to a specific “Aramark Building Community Day” project, which will begin on Sept. 20 at 9 a.m. Grants are available for supplies for kits, workshops and demonstrations and revitalization or transformation projects. The GFOS project will include updates and additions to the Oxford Elementary School garden.

“We hope to provide the students and teachers with a sustainable resource – an outdoor classroom,” Valerie Ewing, Marketing Manager for Higher Education at Aramark, said. “This learning space provides real life skills such as how to grow food, identify insects, and how to use tools. GFOS utilizes this space for various in school and extracurricular activities and we hope to add longevity to that.”   

Volunteers for the project will build benches in the OES garden to seat 35 to 40 students and staff. In addition, a cattle panel hoop house will be installed in the lower portion of the garden to be used as a gardening trellis.

The grant also provided funding for 12 teacher toolkits, three per school, for Oxford Elementary School, Della Davidson Elementary School, Bramlett Elementary School and Oxford Intermediate School. These toolkits include items such as gardening gloves, watering cans and field guides for identifying birds, trees, insects, spiders and flowers in the garden.

Eleanor Green, program director for GFOS, said the toolkits are perhaps the most important part of the grant.

“The mission of our program is to create district-wide healthy changes in our cafeterias and classrooms, and connect kids to where their food comes from,” Green said. “The teacher kits… will enable us to have three kits per school, which will increase the ability of the teachers to use these outdoor spaces as a classroom and, across the curriculum, meet core standards.”

According to Ewing, ABC Day is nothing new for Aramark as an organization. However, she said the opportunity for Aramark employees to give back to the community is invaluable.

While ABC Day is only on Sept. 20, Ewing said the group is currently thinking of more ways to be of service.

“Our HR manager took the lead on the local level Aramark’s yearly community service day ABC Day. Her goal is for us to complete a project a semester,” Ewing said. “We are currently brainstorming on future projects. I’m excited to see what we do next, especially given the diversity of skill and passion within our team.”