Across the country, kids are reaping the benefits and heading back to school with local foods on their plates.
October is National Farm to School Month and programs are kicking off to improve student health and strengthen our communities. Since 2016, farm to school month has been held to grow awareness and assist schools in activities leading to larger local foods programs.
To get started with their own program, schools can incorporate small amounts of local foods into their meals. For instance, Nebraska has an initiative which urges schools to serve a locally-sourced meal in their cafeterias on the first Thursday of each month. This benefits schools and keeps our local economies strong. In the U.S., every dollar spent on farm to school activities generates $0.60 to $2.16 in economic activity.
On Oct. 24, the states of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming will compete in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Regional Crunch Off. By registering, schools have a chance to record the number of crunches into local fruits and vegetables. The state with the most crunches will win the Mountain Plains Region Competition.
The crunch off is a great way to begin your farm to school activities. An excellent local food to utilize is apples; they’re abundant, in-season, and easy to incorporate into school meals.
Now is the time to connect with local schools to promote healthy eating and locally-produced foods. You can learn more at the Center for Rural Affairs website at cfra.org/f2s.
Justin Carter is a project associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action-oriented programs addressing social, economic and environmental issues.