posted June 2, 2011

CASA Summer Program to Explore “Farm to Table”

The elementary-age students of the Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program at Hope College will take a closer look at a crucial part of everyday life through "Farm to Table," exploring where food originates and learning about making good nutritional choices.

More than 90 area students will be participating in CASA's six-week summer session, which begins on Monday, June 20. The program will include trips to area farms - with a chance to pick fresh blueberries - and a visit to Holland's farmer's market, as well as presentations focused on diet.

"Food is a basic essential of our lives, yet what is simple on the surface is actually quite complex in terms of growth, production, distribution and consumption," said Fonda Green, who is executive director of CASA. "Through 'Farm to Table,' we're hoping to acquaint young students with the many facets of what we eat by capitalizing on the access to food that we have in Holland. It will explore farming practices, food sources and supply, and healthy eating."

The program has received $6,300 in grant support from the Youth Advisory Committee of The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area. In addition to underwriting the field trips and presentations, the award is helping provide books and supplies for the related classroom activity running during the six weeks.

CASA, a community organization housed at Hope, provides academic and cultural enrichment for at-risk first- through fifth-grade students. The program, which runs year-round, is intended to improve the students' academic performance by providing the tools they need to succeed in school.

CASA runs five classes, each led by a certified teacher and assistant four mornings a week during the summer session. During the school year, the students meet after school twice per week in one-on-one sessions with volunteer tutors, most of whom are Hope College students.

The academic-year and summer programs serve Holland and West Ottawa students. A total of 150 elementary-age students participated in CASA during the 2010-11 year.

CASA was established in 1987 by Marge Rivera Bermann and Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) and originally housed at First United Methodist Church. CASA moved to Hope College in 1989, and has its offices and summer classes in recently renovated Graves Hall and its school-year activities in classrooms in Lubbers Hall.