On July 29th at Ivanna Farm, Mt. Kisco Daycare Center will celebrate the efforts of Connie’s Bakery and hold a fundraiser at 153 Wood Road on the Mt. Kisco farm to highlight the daycare’s “Feed Me Fresh” program and raise scholarship funds to help families cover the cost of tuition. The daycare and Connie’s Bakery blend nicely into one because both focus themselves on building community.
The Bakery’s charitable causes and training programs for food service students has been an under recognized commodity to the area, according Alex Gordevitch, Mt. Kisco Daycare’s director of development, and enough cannot be said of their contribution. “But just for the record,” she says to those who still have not had the chance to take note, “their baked goods are fabulous – especially the pumpkin UFOs.”
The daycare, for its part, sees collaboration across the local business scene as a means to build community and healthy living for children and family. The “Feed Me Fresh” program buys produce from local farms and also plants right on site. The children and teachers tend in the summer, cultivate into fall and cook healthy throughout the year as part of the curriculum.
“In other words,” said Ms. Gordevitch, “our food service and our curriculum dovetail each other.” Then they take it home. “It’s a total trickledown effect,” she says, and parents go on to limit their trips to fast food outlets and other less healthy choices, she added.
On a larger scale, she sees a shift from “organic” to “local” as a national trend. While local likely still embodies organic, the new vernacular stands more closely associated with ecologically and economically sustainable systems.
“We’re working with local farms and we’re trying to raise awareness,” she said. For instance, making us realize all the unnecessary energy consumption involved in cross-country hauls of produce when a quick trip up and down 684 will suffice. Local farming in itself also helps to build a strong economic foundation for a community as a whole.
Still, for the kids to pass all this on up to their elders, the idea is to keep the concept close enough to something they can touch and easily understand. Once a month, Mt Kisco Daycare hosts literacy adventures tied to the theme of the venue they are attending. Recently, families got together at Amawalk Farm and gave literary depth to blueberry picking from the children’s book, “Blueberries for Sal.”
They read, then reached for the sky and came down with the next best thing to blueberries – raspberries. Making the adjustment for the venue, families accompanied the raspberries with a healthy dinner prepared from the farm’s produce.
But as the daycare has put more “local” emphasis on their organic curriculum and food service, their 36 year mission to mirror the local population has not. “It’s our absolute purpose that we should be representative of the diverse community we live in,” she says.
It follows then that segments of the area’s residents cannot afford the high cost of daycare, in addition to the high cost of living, housing, etc. With annual costs running between $9000 and $17,000 and one third of the daycare’s families earning less than $30,000 a year, scholarship funds must be raised to make up the difference.
That works out to 55% of the families receiving partial or full funding to attend, but the dividends are paid back in full, according to Ms. Gordevitch’s viewpoint. Learning cooperation, tolerance and understanding, the generations cannot help but be positively affected by their experience at Mt. Kisco Daycare. “It’s an important part of becoming a conscientious, community minded person,” she concludes.
Rich Monetti interview of Alex Gordevitch
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