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National Farm to School Network

News

There’s Lots (of Local Foods!) to Love in Your School Cafeteria!

NFSN Staff Monday, October 15, 2018

By Gay Anderson, SNS
President of the School Nutrition Association (SNA)


Schools from coast to coast are celebrating National School Lunch Week with the theme “School Lunch: Lots 2 Love,” and indeed, there are so many reasons to get excited about school lunch! School meals, which meet federal nutrition standards, support efforts to improve students’ diets and combat food insecurity for America’s most vulnerable children. And we all love how school lunch has helped introduce young people to foods grown and raised in their local communities.

In fact, a recent national survey of school meal program directors shows schools are serving more locally grown foods and utilizing farm to school programs to increase student consumption of healthy meals. SNA’s “School Nutrition Operations Report: The State of School Nutrition 2018,” based on survey responses from 1,550 school districts nationwide, reveals the farm to school movement has taken firm root in school cafeterias:

  • 60% of responding districts offer locally sourced fruits and vegetables
  • More than half include preferences for local or regional sourcing of foods in solicitations or purchase specifications
  • Nearly half have implemented farm to school initiatives, and 
  • 34% utilize school gardens to promote healthier food choices
With updated nutrition standards requiring larger servings and a wider variety of fruits and vegetables with each school meal, school nutrition professionals have worked even harder to ensure students are eating and enjoying all that fresh produce. Through farmer visits, garden activities, Harvest of the Month initiatives and taste tests to promote locally sourced produce, schools are gradually turning finicky young students into eager fruit and veggie eaters. Schools across the country are utilizing these tactics not just during National School Lunch Week and Farm to School Month, but year round from Indiana to Georgia and New York to Washington

Even in my home state of South Dakota, where long winters challenge efforts to source locally, we are proud to report that some local producers and nearby school meal programs are finding ways to overcome these hurdles. USDA recently profiled a partnership between Huron Public Schools and Fairacre Farm, which utilizes a high tunnel greenhouse to supply Huron schools with a variety of fresh produce throughout the school year. Thanks to these efforts, students were introduced to okra and cauliflower, sweet potatoes and peppers in the cafeteria and through summer meals and classroom snacks. South Dakota’s school nutrition professionals are even working to locally source school meal entrees. Burke Public School District is finalizing plans to begin serving locally raised beef next semester.

As president of the School Nutrition Association, I have been excited to see school nutrition professionals networking with their colleagues in other districts, sharing successful tactics to increase local sourcing and teach children the benefits of eating local foods. One of the many advantages of working in the school nutrition industry is the spirit of collaboration – instead of competing for customers, school nutrition professionals are all working together to help raise healthy eaters – and it’s that spirit that has fostered the growth of farm to school.

SNA is pleased to partner with the National Farm to School Network and USDA to host education sessions and share resources to help school nutrition professionals improve their procurement practices, connect with local growers, launch school garden initiatives and market locally sourced foods. We look forward to continuing that partnership and sharing new ideas throughout the year ahead. 

Bringing Farm to School Into Breakfast

NFSN Staff Friday, October 12, 2018
By Elizabeth Esparza, Communications Intern

October 15-19 is National School Lunch Week, which offers great opportunities to highlight local food in your school lunches. But let’s not forget about breakfast! National Farm to School Month is a time to find ways to expand outside of your current activities and try new things, such as introducing local foods into your breakfasts.

The importance of breakfast is no secret, and the benefits of breakfast for students are numerous: students who eat breakfast do better academically, are more attentive in school, are less prone to acting out, and have a lower risk for developing diet related diseases. Integrating fresh, local ingredients into the most important meal of the day can only serve to stretch these benefits even further! 

There are so many delicious ways to implement farm to school into your breakfast program. You can try scrambling local eggs for a protein-filled, hearty breakfast burrito, and add a side of salsa featuring farm fresh tomatoes. Scrambled eggs are also a great place to feature school garden-grown herbs! Local berries, yogurt, and granola can make for a sweet and delicious breakfast parfait in the morning. Whole grain bread and potatoes can add some much needed heartiness to your breakfasts to keep students full and attentive. 

Here are some great examples of schools finding fresh and fun ways to add farm to school into their breakfast menus:

Iowa: For Iowa Local Food Day 2018, Des Moines Public Schools served up a sausage and egg breakfast pizza and sunny corn muffins with ingredients sourced from Iowa producers. This healthy breakfast pizza packed with protein is a student favorite, and makes an easy Grab n’ Go meal that fuels up bodies and minds for the first classes of the day. 

Rhode Island: A few years ago, a Rhode Island baker started incorporating local zucchini, carrots, and apples into breakfast bars and muffins he makes for Providence schools. Those items are packaged and used in Breakfast in the Classroom and Grab n’ Go breakfasts. Though apple bars and muffins are a natural favorite of students, a couple years of experience has taught the schools that peeled zucchini and fun names for the bars and muffins can make the other options much more kid-friendly. 

Texas: Austin Independent School District’s Breakfast in the Classroom program includes breakfast tacos featuring local eggs. Eggs are a great lower cost meat alternative that offers students filling and tasty protein, and they are such a versatile breakfast option that pairs well with so many other foods.

Massachusetts: Boston Public Schools also offers a healthy muffin that includes local apples, zucchini, and carrots, which was selected specifically for its ability to work well for Breakfast in the Classroom. Muffins are a hearty and quick breakfast option, making them perfect for Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab n’ Go breakfasts, or Second Chance Breakfast. Just outside of Boston, Cambridge Public Schools makes oatmeal using local apple cider as the cooking liquid. Apples are a common favorite fruit among students, and finding ways to taste them in new and creative ways is a great way to not only incorporate local foods into different meals, but also to show students the versatility that their favorites can offer in every meal!

If adding to your breakfast program feels like just too big a leap right now, fear not! You can always plan for the future. National School Breakfast Week is March 6-10, 2019. Mark your calendars and get thinking about how you can get farm to school into your breakfast soon! 

3 Steps for a Positively Bluetiful School

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 11, 2018

Guest post by US Highbush Blueberry Council

Celebrate National Farm to School Month the bluetiful way with highbush blueberries! From their great taste to their added health benefits, highbush blueberries are the berry that loves you back making them a fruity favorite of cafeteria managers across the country. With the help of these little blue dynamos, you can teach your students that nutritious, healthy foods can also be absolutely delicious. Here are 3 easy ways to incorporate highbush blueberries into your farm to school activities this October (and all year-round!) making your school Positively Bluetiful:

1. Boost Your Blueberries
A little change like adding more highbush blueberries to your menus can have a big impact on your students’ interest in eating more foods that meet school nutrition standards. And with increased emphasis on healthful options and a lot of little mouths to feed each day, what schools need are tasty, nutritious items kids will love. Here’s how highbush blueberries can help: 

  • NUTRITIOUS + DELICIOUS: When it comes to flavor and health benefits, highbush blueberries are proof that good things do come in small packages! Providing fiber, vitamin C, manganese and – of course – deliciousness, highbush blueberries will add a burst of flavor to your students’ day. 
  • NO-FUSS FRUIT: For cafeteria managers, highbush blueberries are a low-labor fruit making them easy to add to school menus. No peeling, slicing, or dicing—simply wash and explore all the ways to enjoy their goodness from smoothies to salads, dipping sauces to pizza! 
  • YEAR-ROUND AVAILABILITY: From local fresh highbush blueberries to USDA Foods frozen highbush blueberries, your district can enjoy blueberries on menus no matter the season, learn how!
2. Explore the Playbook 
Searching for a resource that can help transform your school’s nutrition program from good to Positively Bluetiful? Look no further than the Highbush Blueberry Farm to School Playbook! From kids’ activities, nutrition guides, blueberry inspiration and more, the Playbook is packed with resources that will excite your students, inspire your staff and celebrate with your local community. Whether you’re just starting a farm to school program or your nutrition education is proclaimed nationwide, we promise the Highbush Blueberry Farm to School Playbook will be your new go-to resource making nutrition – and blueberries! - fun for all. 
 

3. Join in the Fun 
In honor of National Farm to School Month, one lucky school district will win a “Build-Your-Own Highbush Blueberry Day!” Easy as 1, 2, 3…here’s how you can enter: 

  1. Explore the Highbush Blueberry Farm to School Playbook 
  2. Enter the National Farm to School Month Sweepstakes 
  3. Cross your fingers and toes, while you snack on some blueberries! 
Wondering what “build-your-own” means?  If your school is the lucky winner, you’ll have the opportunity to customize a special “Highbush Blueberry Day” with the support from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and its marketing experts to help you plan, execute and promote the perfect event for your district, students and community. Host a highbush blueberry taste test with your students? Invite a local grower to discuss the life cycle of highbush blueberries from little seed to plump berry? Explore the versatility of highbush blueberries in a cafeteria cooking demo? Let your blueberry dreams run crazy! 

Now, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on the fun! Explore the Playbook, enter the sweepstakes and bring buckets of blueberry fun to your school today! 

National Farm to School Network thanks the US Highbush Blueberry Council for being a sponsor of our 2018 National Farm to School Month Celebrations!

Putting the CRUNCH in Farm to School Month

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 10, 2018

By Elizabeth Esparza, Communications Intern

National Farm to School Month is a time when schools, farms, and communities come together to share and celebrate the fantastic work being done to build farm to school throughout the country. No matter where you are in the country, National Farm to School Month offers opportunities for everyone to share in the festivities in some way! 

One way that many states and regions come together each year is by hosting “crunch” events. By encouraging schools throughout a state and region to crunch into a local food on a specific day, at a specified time, or even simply anytime during the month of October, crunch events create a unifying experience and a sense of camaraderie amongst National Farm to School Month celebrators. (Plus, it’s a tasty way to celebrate!) 

How do you host a crunch event? 

First, find out if your state or region already has a crunch that you can participate in. Check out our calendar of Farm to School Month events to see if there is a crunch in your area. North Carolina, Iowa, Utah, Alabama, California, Montana, Florida, Hawai’i, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio are some of the many who are hosting crunch events this month. 

Pick your produce.
While apple crunches are most common, feel free to crunch into any local item you choose. Carrots and cucumbers are also great choices that give a great crunch sound! 

Get the whole school involved. Make sure that your crunch event really celebrates all of your hard work in farm to school. Invite a local farmer, invite families to participate, celebrate your food service staff and administrators that make farm to school happen in your school. Everyone can be invited to enjoy the crunch of a fresh, local food! 

Set a time for the crunch. One of the best things about a crunch event is the collective noise you can all make to celebrate farm to school. So whether you crunch to start out lunchtime or get everyone gathered to crunch in some other way, setting a time is another way to truly make your crunch an event to remember! 

Make it more than a crunch. Incorporate your crunch item into a meal or taste test. Once you’ve crunched, keep the tasting going! Work with food service staff to bring that item into breakfast or lunch, or try a taste test of that food cooked in several different ways. 

Print some stickers. Get students even more excited to crunch by giving them the opportunity to wear their tasting accomplishment with pride. Whether you want a National Farm to School Month sticker or a taste test specific sticker, we have a few to choose from here.

Spread the word. 
A crunch event is a great opportunity to share your farm to school story with local media outlets. Download our National Farm to School Month Celebration Toolkit for media pitch ideas and suggestions for connecting with local reporters. 

Share the celebration! No matter where or how or when you crunch, be sure to share it with the wider farm to school community by posting to social media with the hashtags #F2SMonth and #farmtoschool. Scan these hashtags now to see how others are crunching this National Farm to School Month! 

Are you participating in a crunch event at your school this October? Does this list inspire you to organize your own? We want to hear about it! Tell us how you’re celebrating National Farm to School Month this October - with a crunch event, or any farm to school activity! - and we’ll enter you to win a package of farm to school prizes for a school of your choice. This year's prizes include a "Build-Your-Own Blueberry Day" from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, assets from the Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden™ program, organic dairy products from Organic Valley, and a collection of seeds from High Mowing Organic Seeds. No action or crunch is too small - take the pledge today

Need a little bit more inspiration to get your CRUNCH on? Check out these highlights from recent apple crunches in Virginia and Washington. Happy CRUNCH-ing! 



2018 Fall Funding Round Up

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 03, 2018

National Farm to School Month is a time to try new things and take action to grow your farm to school activities. One great way to try something new in your program is to apply for funding to help support or grow your efforts. If you’re new to farm to school, check out our getting started resources: 

Ready to kickoff or expand your farm to school efforts? Here are several fall funding opportunities to explore:

USDA FY 2019 Farm to School Grant RFA
The FY 2019 Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) is now open to applicants. Due to additional funding made available to the Farm to School Grant Program through the FY 2018 Omnibus Bill, the Office of Community Food Systems seeks to award approximately $7.5M in FY 2019 funding. Applications are due December 4, 2018. Learn more and apply here.

The National Farm to School Network advocated for the establishment of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program and is committed to ensuring it reaches the communities that need this funding most. NFSN is available on a consultation basis to provide assistance to potential applicants in the areas of: planning and preparing the application; customized support for Native communities; evaluation; and, focus on early care and education / pre-K. For more information about National Farm to School Network consultation services - including specific consultation offerings, pricing, and a form to express interest - click here

Nature Conservancy School Gardens
The Nature Conservancy is awarding grants to support projects that implement green infrastructure to address local environmental challenges. These include access to healthy food, air quality, heat island effect, climate change, and storm water collection. Young people will work as social innovators to help their communities through project design and implementation. A $2,000 grant will be awarded to up to 50 schools. Applications are due October 5. Learn more here.

National Education Association Grants
Student Achievement Grants, offered by the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation, are for projects that help students learn how to think critically and solve problems in order to improve student learning. Learning & Leadership Grants, offered by the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation, are for professional development opportunities for individuals or groups. Grants are available to current members of the National Education Association who are educators in public schools or public institutions of higher education. Preference is given to proposals that incorporate STEM and/or global learning into projects, which can include farm to school activities. Two levels of funding are available: $2,000 and $5,000. The next deadline for applications is October 15. 

Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grant Program
The Whole Kids Foundation, in partnership with FoodCorps, is now accepting applications for its School Garden Grant Program, an annual grantmaking program that supports school garden projects designed to help students learn about topics such as nutrition and health, sustainability and conservation, food systems, and community awareness. These grants will be in the amount of $2,000 for year-long projects. The applications are due October 15. Learn more here.

Seeds for Education Grant Program
Teachers and students across the US are expanding learning opportunities by enhancing their schoolyards with butterfly gardens, nature trails, prairies, woodland wildflower preserves, and similar projects. These projects enrich the learning environment and provide aesthetic and environmental benefits. Wild Ones offers assistance for all aspects of such projects. Cash grants under $500 are available for plants and seeds, and in-kind donations from Nursery Partners can help stretch these dollars. Applications are due October 15. Learn more here.

Whole Kids Foundation - Bee Grant Program
The Bee Grant program allows for a K-12 school or non-profit organization to receive support for an educational bee hive. Four grant options are available, and all include remote consultation and assistance with Beekeeper partnership from The Bee Cause Project. Applications are doc October 31. Learn more here

Annie’s Grant for Edible School Gardens
Want a school garden? Annie’s believes that showing future generations how sustainable food is grown changes their lives. Connecting kids to gardens helps them to start thinking more holistically about their food, their communities, and the planet. Applications are due November 1. Learn more and apply here.

Safer® Brand School Garden Grant 
Safer® Brand is starting an annual school garden grant to help kids build healthy habits through gardening, bring classmates closer together and unite everyone in a common goal of better health. The $500 grant will be awarded to a school in the United States to start a school garden in 2018. Applications for this grant are due December 1. Learn more here.

2019 Youth Garden Grant
Any nonprofit organization, public or private school, or youth program in the United States or US Territories planning a new garden program or expanding an established one that serves at least 15 youth between the ages of 3 and 18 is eligible to apply. The selection of winners is based on demonstrated program impact and sustainability. The top 5 programs will be awarded grant packages worth $2,100. Grant packages worth $500 will be awarded to 20 additional programs. Applications are due December 17. Learn more here

Find more ideas for supporting your farm to school activities in our Funding Farm to School factsheet. Stay tuned to our This Week blogs, posted every Tuesday, for more farm to school funding, resources and engagement opportunities.

31 Days to Celebrate Farm to School

NFSN Staff Monday, October 01, 2018

October is a time of year when farms and gardens are overflowing with delicious harvests of every size, shape, color, and flavor – and a time when we come together with schools, farms, and communities from throughout the country to celebrate National Farm to School Month! The National Farm to School Network advocated for the creation of National Farm to School Month by Congress in 2010 (House Resolution 1655) and since then, the yearly October festivities have brought together thousands of students, teachers, parents, farmers, food advocates, school lunch professionals, and community members from a wide range of sectors to raise awareness of the important role of farm to school in improving child nutrition, supporting local economies, and building vibrant communities. This National Farm to School Month, join the celebration of food education, school gardens, and lunch trays filled with healthy, local ingredients. Anyone can get involved!

As National Farm to School Month has grown throughout the years, states have expanded their celebrations. Some states, such as New Jersey and Virginia, host their own statewide Farm to School Week to focus on the exciting farm to school efforts happening throughout their states. Others, such as Iowa, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, choose a specific day to raise awareness and highlight local food in their states with a “Local Food Day”. A number of states promote statewide apple crunches, including the Great Lakes region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin), Montana, North Carolina, and Alabama. From garden harvests to locally sourced lunches, states throughout the country have seized the opportunity to celebrate their local bounty and encourage those throughout their state to get involved wherever they are, all while educating their communities about the origins of their food. 
 
No matter where you live, everyone can join in the National Farm to School Month celebration! Here are a few ways to get involved this month: 
 
  • Take the Pledge: Sign our Take Action Pledge and commit to taking action to advance farm to school in your community this October.
  • Explore resources: Download our new Farm to School Month Celebration Toolkit and check out other free resources for planning and promoting celebrations in your community, including customizable posters and bookmarks, stickers, activity suggestions and communications tools. 
  • See what’s happening: Explore our national calendar of Farm to School Month events to see what celebrations are happening in your community.
  • Donate to support our work: Invest in the future of farm to school. Donate to the National Farm to School Network and help us bring farm to school to communities across the country every month! Take one small step and make a charitable donation today. 
  • Share the celebration: We want to know how you’re celebrating! Share your Farm to School stories on social media with #F2SMonth and #farmtoschool.
  • Wear your support: Check out our Farm to School Month store for t-shirts, stickers, buttons, and more to wear your Farm to School love all month long! 
  • Stay up to date: Make sure you’re signed up for our e-newsletter. We’ll be sending a few emails this month with more action ideas and ways to celebrate. Sign up here
Farm to school is a grassroots movement powered by people like you taking small actions every day to grow healthier kids, support local agriculture and cultivate vibrant communities. These next 31 days are the perfect time to celebrate how far we've come, and dig in to keep growing the movement!
 
Special thanks to our 2018 National Farm to School Month Sponsors and Supporters - including CoBank, Newman's Own Foundation, U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Captain Planet Foundation, Organic Valley, Farm Credit, FarmLogix, and High Mowing Organic Seeds - as well as the Featured Partner and Outreach Partner organizations that are helping us spread the word about farm to school throughout October. And, thanks to you for being a farm to school champion in your community.
 
Happy National Farm to School Month!

Farm to School Month Roundup: 31 Days of Action for Farm to School

NFSN Staff Wednesday, November 01, 2017
 Photo Credit: DC Greens
For the past 31 days, millions of schools, farmers and communities across the country have been celebrating the movement that’s connecting kids to fresh, healthy food and supporting local economies. From Florida to Alaska and everywhere in between, people are recognizing the power of farm to school to benefits kids, farmers and communities. That’s what National Farm to School Month is all about! 

This year’s campaign celebrated the small actions that people take every day to get involved and support farm to school and farm to early care and education in their communities. Through our Farm to School Month “Take Action Pledge,” we heard from hundreds of people across the country about the action steps they took in October:

  • Invited parents to join students for a lunch of fresh collard greens and South Carolina grown sweet potatoes – South Carolina
  • Worked to build an active Farm to School Committee that helps connect community entities and passionate people – Michigan
  • Continued to teach my daycare center children about the importance of growing vegetables by turning a recycled crib into a raised garden bed – New York
  • Incorporated produce from our own school greenhouse into school lunch menu and salad bar – Maine
  • Hosted a Fall Harvest Party in the school garden, featuring tasty treats using produce from the garden, reading from a garden-themed book together, and farmers who shared their stories with students – Iowa
At the National Farm to School Network, we’ve been leading Farm to School Month celebrations by sharing farm to school inspiration and stories from partners organizations including Alliance for a Healthier Generation, National CACFP Sponsors Association, The NEA Foundation, School Nutrition Association, USDA Office of Community Food Systems and Youth Empowered Solutions. Thanks to special support from CoBank, we also shared several stories about how small farmers across the country are experiencing the benefits of farm to school, such as new market opportunities, expanded profit margins, and consistent buyers for their products

On social media, we celebrated with a #FarmtoSchool101 tweet chat to spread awareness and generated new support for the movement. More than 289 people joined the conversation on social media, sharing stories about the positive impact farm to school has in their communities. On Instagram, we hosted #TakeoverTuesdays with Strike Farms, Loudoun County School Nutrition, and FoodCorps to share what farm to school looks like for the folks who do it every day! 


Millions of students celebrated Farm to School Month by crunch into fresh, local food with events like the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch, Hawai’i CHOMP, Florida Cucumber Crunch and Montana Crunch Time. Policymakers from Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Vermont made proclamations declaring October Farm to School Month in their states. In Georgia, kids learned about planting, harvesting and cooking legumes with Georgia Organic’s “Make Room for Legumes” celebration. In Massachusetts, farm to school advocates gathered at the State House for a Farm to School Awareness Day and announcement of their 2017 Kale Blazer Award. In Alaska, schools celebrated farm to school every week in October by focusing on a different Alaska agricultural products, such as tubers and roots (Eskimo potatoes), meat (Caribou) and leaves (fiddlehead ferns). We could keep going! 


Farm to school is a grassroots movement powered by people like you, taking small actions every day to bring more local food sourcing and food and agriculture education to students across the nation. There are 334 days to continue growing and strengthening the movement before Farm to School Month 2018! Help us keep the momentum going by joining our network and stay up-to-date on the latest stories, new resources, policy actions, learning opportunities – like the upcoming 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, April 25-27, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities are worth taking action for every day!

Thank you to this year’s National Farm to School Month sponsors - CoBank, Territory Foods, Captain Planet Foundation, Organic Valley, Perdue, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Stand2Learn and High Mowing Organic Seeds - as well as the Featured Partner and Outreach Partner organizations that are helping us spread the word about farm to school throughout October. And, thanks to you for being a farm to school champion in your community.

5 Tips for Celebrating Farm to School Month

NFSN Staff Friday, October 27, 2017


By Wendy Allen, Organic Valley

One of our favorite things about National Farm to School Month is October’s abundance of farm-fresh foods, many in a rainbow of colors that children don’t often associate with food. Apples in colors other than red; carrots in colors other than orange; white, yellow—even blue!—potatoes fresh from the soil. And nothing beats the flavor of vine-ripened, heirloom tomatoes in hues of red, orange, yellow and purple.
Schools that source local foods are providing an educational experience for our children that goes way beyond the classroom. Not only are the varied colors of unique, local foods beautiful, each color represents vital nutrients for growing bodies. Best of all, a rainbow-colored plate supports local farmers whose kids may be in your own child’s class. Schools that go one step further to source local and organic are also supporting a way of farming that reduces the use of chemicals on our food, our land and, therefore, in our children’s vulnerable bodies.

Here are a few more of our favorite ways you can participate in National Farm to School Month in your homes and communities!

Harvest the season’s bounty. Visit a local apple orchard or pumpkin patch and pick your own. Many children these days don’t connect that their food comes from the soil or animals rather than the store shelf. Teach them this valuable lesson with a fun and colorful fall experience! 

Know your farmer. Meet a farmer at the farmers market and learn the story behind your food. Ask them questions: Where is your farm? What’s your favorite part of your job? What can my family do to support you and other local farmers? Is your farmers market closed for the season? Look into fall and winter “community supported agriculture” (CSA) shares to get local foods nearly year-round. Find a CSA farm new you at www.localharvest.org.

Be a leader! If your local school doesn’t have a farm to school program, talk to the school administrators about starting one! You can use the National Farm to School Network’s excellent “Benefits of Farm to School” resource to help explain why farm to school is a win-win-win for kids, farmers and communities! In addition, many states have organizations that help install gardens, and schools can get free curriculum to connect science, nutrition, health and physical education classes with their gardens. Here’s a resource from Organic Valley’s home state of Wisconsin, which any state could use to get started:

  • The Got Dirt? Gardening Initiative provides a toolkit with step-by-step plans for starting a community, school or childcare garden. To bring the classroom to the garden, the program also created the Got Veggies? Garden Based Nutrition Curriculum, which is a free download. Download both toolkits here
  • For additional curricular resources, visit the National Farm to School Network resource library.
  • Know of other great resources? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter!
Grow your own! Start small with a window herb garden, a manageable space in the backyard, or even vegetables that are suited for pots on the porch. A great kids’ activity! Volunteer to visit your local school to help students plant their own classroom herb garden. 

Cook together. Cooking can be a great learning experience. Encourage lots of colors for balanced nutrition, and talk about where the foods came from – does your child know that butter comes from cream, which is part of milk, which came from a cow? Talk about it while making your own butter!

National Farm to School Month is a great time to engage with your child’s classrooms and encourage teachers to work in food and farming education. It’s so important to help our children learn to appreciate where our food comes from and the hard work it takes to bring that food to our tables.

Organic Valley is a 2017 National Farm to School Month sponsor, and happy to support the National Farm to School Network in its efforts to support family farming and teach children about where our food comes from.
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