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University of South Carolina April 11, 2013 A publication for faculty, staff and friends of the university Aiken Beaufort Columbia USC Times Lancaster Salkehatchie Sumter Union Upstate Going first class By: Frenche Brewer selling better health By Jeff Stensland It started with a tomato. Darcy Freedman, then a graduate student in Nashville, Tenn., was reviewing photos with parents of preschoolers as a part of a research project. When Freedman flipped to a picture of bright red tomato, one mother’s face lit up. “She said that picture was like that dress she sees in the window, something she’d always wanted to buy but just couldn’t get,” Freedman said. The idea that the mom did not have access to a basic healthy food item, one most people take for granted, seemed wrong. That led Freedman, now a professor at USC’s College of Social Work, to begin studying the connections between healthy foods, strong communities, and economic and social justice. It’s more than an academic exercise, and Freedman has helped launch several farmers markets with the mission to bring healthy food to underserved communities.  The latest opened nearly two years ago in Orangeburg, S.C., and is located outside of a community health center. The Right Choice, Fresh Start Farmers Market not only attracts residents with an array of tantalizing food choices, but also gives a boost to the local economy by providing small-scale farmers with a space to sell their produce. I find that communities, no matter where they are, are often brought together around food. And if healthy food is available, people will take advantage of it,” she said. Freedman, along with James Hebert from the Arnold School of Public Health, is finding ways to build on the market’s success by finding ways for low-income families to buy even more produce. She piloted a program that provided more than 300 customers with federal food assistance a $5 match on the first $5 of produce they purchased. It contrasts with recent proposals in South Carolina to curb obesity by limiting what people can buy with federal food assistance. “We decided it was much better to go with a carrot rather than the stick approach,” she said. Freedman believes the debate over various proposals to address obesity could lead to broader policy discussions about access to the right kinds of foods. “It’s really hard to buy healthy foods when they’re not available,” she said.   All through school Katelyn Jones looked up to her teachers, and now she’s the object of adoring eyes in her second grade class at Lake Carolina Elementary School. “There were so many teachers who impacted me and my life. My mom was a teacher and I would go to her room and play teacher after school,” says Jones. When Jones gets in front of a class these days, it’s not pretend. As a senior elementary education major, she’s getting plenty of practice and experience for her future profession at one of the premier schools in Richland School District Two. Jones will launch her teaching career from a platform designed to show her how to go beyond the traditional student-teaching experience and get the most out of her students through a professional development program offered in the College of Education. “I think the partnership between the university and the elementary schools is key,” she says. “Not all elementary schools are professional development schools, but I feel the ones that are, truly grasp the idea of collaboration and working together to give us the best experience, as well as putting us in a place where we’ll get the most out of it.” Professional development is all about preparing the next generation of educators, showing them how to be innovative in the classroom, introducing them to diverse classroom environments and shoring them up for success in the early years when teaching can be the most challenging. When education majors are assigned to a professional development school, the interns get to work with veteran teachers. “We see a benefit for teachers exposed to new strategies and practices that the students have learned in their classroom work at the university,” Margo Jackson, the USC/ Lake Carolina liaison says. Since arriving at Lake Carolina in the fall, Jones has been able to put those strategies to work. “My cooperating teacher has been great with giving me opportunities,” says Jones. “We do a lot of co-teaching instead of me sitting there and observing. I’ve gotten the chance to step in the classroom and handle it like it’s my own.” “I love that we’re a professional development school,” Berry says. “We have phenomenal interns that come through here and we take it seriously that we’re here to come alongside the university and prepare them because they’re going to be affecting the children of our future.”

USC Times April 11, 2013

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