WI Farm to School Council welcomes four new members

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
DATCP Division of Agricultural Development logo

The Wisconsin Farm to School Council, part of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, is welcoming three new members to the team.

Darlene Arneson

Darlene Arneson of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, farmer Sarah Christman and Lisa Kingery of the non-profit organization FoodRight, Inc., will be serving three-year terms on the council, which works to bring locally produced food to school students and promote healthy eating.

Arneson is an Ag in the Classroom coordinator for WFBF, where she works with kids and teens of all ages in outreach efforts to teach them more about farming and where their food comes from. She also helps teachers and school volunteers create lesson plans to teach about agriculture, help them find resources and coordinate field trips like farm tours. Arneson said she's excited about working with the council and making connections.

"I look forward to this opportunity to serve on the council and for me to learn about all the different entities represented on the council, and what I often bring back to teachers and volunteers and to share with students, but also to help you learn about our program and things that might be helpful," Arneson said. "It's a good way for me to share information with them, so I appreciate the opportunity to do this."

Christman is a first-generation farmer who currently works with Hunger Task Force outside Milwaukee working on a vegetable farm. In 2014, while working with Growing Power, she helped set the record of the largest farm-to-school fresh food sale in the history of the US Department of Agriculture. Growing Power grew 40,000 pounds of carrots, a quarter of which went to Wisconsin schools (the rest went to Chicago Public Schools).

Christman said she joined the council because she has also worked with children on farms before, and she wants to help them grow as a person through farming.

"I'm 13 years (in) farming, a lot of it with kids. I figure most kids are having these bright relationships, good food and exercise, being able to breathe and just have these brilliant experiences with adults who buffer," Christman said. "So if I'm able to help be an advisory council in that buffering role and then helping inform legislation ... This is very personally driven."

Lisa Kingery

Kingery is the founder and CEO of FoodRight, which helps youth choose healthy lifestyles that support a longer life. Kingery founded the group in 2014 as a public health dietitian, where she began teaching about healthy cooking, eating and vegetable growing in Milwaukee classrooms. Kingery teaches more than 1,500 central-city kids a year, which she says is important to her because she wants them to understand what it's like working as a farmer.

"My goal of being on ... the council is just to connect with other people that are doing Farm to School. It's my dream to bring much more farm food into (the) Milwaukee Public Schools meal service," Kingery said. "The kids we teach who are in central city have zero idea about what it means to grow food or what the work of a farmer is, so we've been little by little bringing in more of that education ... to them."

Irene Pawlisch, a chef and the food service director of child nutrition for Taher, Inc., a food service management group, was also welcomed to the council, but was unable to attend the meeting. Pawlisch is also a culinary and nutrition educator for the River Falls School District where she manages summer school programming that includes gardening, culinary skills and food science lessons. Pawlisch is also the president-elect of the School Nutrition Association