About Felicia Pinto

I am an AmeriCorps member serving with Luther College in partnership with the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative.

All Smiles

Like many of the gardens and students that I’ve worked with in my year of service, I too have grown. In fact this year was one of the most influential years in my life. I’ve gained confidence, leadership skills, and a lot of great new recipes. Here with FFI I’ve found my passion for working with school districts and children. I feel as though this year has opened my eyes to goals for my future career. Continue reading

Ground Breaking News! MFL MarMac Middle School has new garden!

photo 5 P1010404 2 P1010407 2The MFL MarMac McGregor center garden project has begun! After receiving grants from the Clayton County Foundation, Hy-Vee, and Iowa Department of Agriculture the McGregor center was able to begin the garden they have been anticipating for quite some time. I am amazed as to how much the staff and community came together on this project. Not only did we begin a garden but also spruced up the landscape of the backside of the school. On planting day we encouraged people to drop off hostas or any other perennials and the amount we received was beyond generous. Up on the hill behind the school was a desolated playground that really had not much use. We added in a pumpkin/melon/squash patch, as well as two apple trees and grapes. We will be placing in a picnic table up there as well to allow for classrooms to use the space often. Immediately behind the school are two raised vegetable garden beds. Produce will be able to be used in the school salad bar as well as for snacks and in the health skills classes. Working on this project was the highlight of my year. Seeing so many passionate teachers and community members donating their time and labor for this project was incredible. Just thinking of the years to come and the impact this garden will have on the students of McGregor gives me great joy. Continue reading

Kale me Krazy, but kids love kale!

P1010401 2At MFL MarMac Mrs. Butikofer’s class delivered another taste test throughout the whole elementary, Jr.K-3rd grade. This class of freshman administered the previous taste test so they had some experience under their belts. So with a little reminder on why wellness matters and the influence they have on the elementary students they were ready! Continue reading


Thanks to the Pepperfield Project, David Cavagnaro provided seeds for all school gardens and planting has begun!  The past few weeks both Clayton Ridge and MFL MarMac first graders began planting.  It was great to finally get our hands dirty and start thinking about spring.  At MFL Mar Mac the high school agriculture class helped the first graders plant and gave them a tour of the greenhouse.  Besides the sprinklers turning on mid tour it was very successful.  Although we all did get a good laugh out of it. Continue reading

Feeling Proud

At MFL Mar/Mac it was time to cross age teach again.  Each year they make and freeze salsa from the produce in the school garden and the high school students deliver a taste test with all of the elementary.  This year I decided to add black beans to the salsa and have them teach about protein.  I prepared the lesson, the salsa was out to thaw, yet there was still one obstacle I had to overcome.  How do I get these high school freshman excited to teach the elementary students?  Then as I was cooking dinner (when all my great ideas seem to pop into my head) I had the idea to video the elementary students and ask them what they thought of the high schoolers, and if they wanted them to come into their classrooms.  It totally worked! Continue reading

Another Meaning for Snow Day

Heading home for winter break– I can’t lie–was something I was looking forward too.  I was excited to see my family, friends, and of course my dog.  Sometimes a phone call just isn’t enough, so I was excited to get all my monthly servings of hugs and kisses I’ve been missing.  Oh and how can I forget, I was real eager to get ALL my missed servings of that east coast seafood that I had been dreaming about.  Yet mid way through my vacation I must say I was missing Decorah. It’s now my second home, my home away from home, my…well you get it. Continue reading

The bran, the germ, the endosperm!

Grains grains have been on my brain!  This past week first and third graders at Clayton Ridge learned about whole grains and their healthy benefits.  We explored different kinds of grains and the difference between whole grains and refined grains.  In the third grade we played a fiber relay game.  To do so the class was broken into two teams, each team had to do a variety of exercises to one side of the room and back like lunges, knee lifts..etc. Once they got to one side of the room they had to search through a pile of food labels and pick one they believed was a whole grain.  Once each team had all their food labels we added up the amount of fiber on each team and the team with the most fiber won!  It got them moving, energized, and familiar with the nutrition facts label.  Then of course it wouldn’t be a full lesson without trying some whole grains so then we made some popcorn! YUM YUM. Continue reading