The Michigan State University Extension has rolled out Farm-to-Pizza, a lesson plan designed to provide educators and food service professionals with a guide for a classroom-based, hands-on activity around local food. The lesson plan was developed and pilot tested with more than 20 classes in Kent and Muskegon Counties with support from Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Nutrition Services Coordinator Amy Klinkoski.

Farm-to-Pizza gives students a chance to prepare their own pizza made with local fruits and vegetables such as spinach, peppers, mushrooms, kale, artichoke, tomatoes, and onions. Students also are given an introduction to the culinary arts.

Farm-to-Pizza is available to download for free at the Farm-to-Pizza page on the MSU Extension website. There are three components to the package:

• A lesson plan designed for elementary level students in PDF format;
• A power point presentation that corresponds with the lesson plan that can be personalized and
• A take-home handout with the recipe so students can make their own pizzas at home with their families.

This past March, MSU dietetic student interns Emily Vong and Kathleen Revard presented the Farm-to-Pizza lesson plan for a 2nd grade class at Grand Rapids Public School’s Palmer Elementary School. Revard designed the short interactive PowerPoint presentation to educate the students about the difference between fruits and vegetables, inform them of what is grown in Michigan, discuss how foods get from the field to the table, as well as the health benefits of the foods used to make pizzas. After the presentation, students were given a short lesson in proper knife skills so they could cut spinach and peppers for their whole wheat English muffin pizzas with child-safe knives.

“We observed that many students initially were hesitant about the vegetable choices we brought," Revard says. "However, as we talked about these vegetables, and they had the opportunity to cut their own, they became more enthusiastic about trying them on their pizza.”

To close the lesson, the students were given a handout to take home that summarized the topics that were discussed during the presentation as well as the recipe to make the English muffin pizzas at home.