Webinar Recap: How Ontario Local Food to School Programs are Keeping Kids Connected During COVID

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Author: Sustain Ontario

Posted: November 10, 2021

Categories: Edible Education Network / Good Food Ideas for Kids / GoodFoodBites / News from Sustain Ontario / School Food News / Schools

Sustain Ontario’s Edible Education Network was pleased to celebrate Farm to School Month 2021 with a 90 minute webinar, How Ontario Local Food to School Programs are Keeping Kids Connected During COVID, on October 27, 2021.

The event focused on how Planting Seeds of Hope, AgScape, and Headwaters Food and Farming Alliance have modified or maintained their programs because of COVID and how they are supporting connections to students and schools.

This event was the 5th in our series of webinars about how school food programs are adapting in a time of COVID.

This webinar was hosted by Nicole Hambleton and Carolyn Webb of Sustain Ontario.

Presenters Included:

Allison Whitten a Registered Dietitian and Coordinator of Farm to School Programming for Headwaters Food and Farming Alliance (HFFA). Allison shared how HFFA has modified programs to suit various COVID situations, and how the organization has rallied to overcome obstacles.

Mercedes Unwin is the Program and Resource Manager for AgScape. Mercedes shared how AgScape has used innovative virtual technologies to expand programming which has led to AgScape having one of its most successful years to date.

Jackie Ryan is the founder of Planting Seeds of Hope (PSOH).  Jackie shared how PSOH utilizes 46 acres of land to teach children about soil, habitats and interdependence. She shared how outdoor programs have been modified to meet COVID constraints, and how the land has been a healing force for program participants.

Speakers discussed a diverse range of COVID coping strategies such as working with public health officials to ensure guideline compliance, pivoting to online synchronous and asynchronous programming, moving programs into the community when schools were closed, and how funding has helped ensure the success of these programs.

Presenters shared these as well as many other key takeaways:

  • Ask schools what they need.  Don’t make assumptions
  • Community collaboration is paramount to program success
  • Consider streaming to more than one virtual platform
  • Rethink existing programs and look for new gaps to fill
  • Outdoor learning and connection to the land helps children and families regenerate and learn to walk in balance with the natural world

We encourage you to watch the full webinar and check out the programs linked above.


This webinar is part of Sustain’s school food webinar series on adapting to COVID-19. Recordings of past webinars in the series are available below: