Mobile kitchen cart comes to Houlton Elementary, Southside schools

4 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — In today’s era, children in the U.S. go hungry and many more develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. 

Food security and healthy eating require two things — access to fresh, healthy food and the basic skills to prepare that food. It is this essential food education that is the foundation of the USDA’s Farm to School Grant recently awarded to the Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District (SASWCD).

Alexis Smith enjoys a treat from the “Charlie Cart” at Houlton Southside School. The mobile kitchen cart grant project works with Houlton Elementary and Southside schools to teach hands-on nutrition education through food and cooking using a mobile kitchen cart, called the Charlie Cart, to students in grades K-5. (Photo courtesy of Angela Wotton)

The two-year “Mobile Kitchen Cart” grant project works with Houlton Elementary and Southside schools to teach hands-on nutrition education through food and cooking using a mobile kitchen cart, called the Charlie Cart, to students in grades K-5. 

The Charlie Cart, founded in 2015, is a fully-equipped and colorful mobile kitchen with a well-researched curriculum aligned to math, science and English language arts. With the many connections between food, health, and the environment, lessons can be easily adapted to grade levels in both schools. In addition to in-class cooking sessions, field trips to local farms will also be scheduled during the grant period. 

During the project, the SASWCD will work collaboratively with educators Lauren Fitzpatrick and Leanne Faulkingham in each school to assist with project planning. As part of the grant, Fitzpatrick and SASWCD district manager Angela Wotton attended a Farm to School conference in New Orleans to learn more about farm to school projects and network with other grantees. 

On-site training with the Charlie Cart’s personnel is planned for spring, 2020 for elementary and Southside teachers and food services staff. The cart will begin at Southside school where cooking lessons with fourth grade students have begun and will continue with other grades throughout the winter.