October is Farm-to-School Month - a perfect time to teach students about the origins of their food and the benefits of locally produced and processed foods and ingredients. Farm-to-school foods ensure the freshest foods in school meals and help support local economies at the same time. Money spent in your community, stays in your community. And while most of us think of crop agriculture when we hear farm-to-school, it can also encompass the likes of local fisheries, beef ranchers, chicken farms and food processors.
The National Farm-to-School Network and many state and local agencies offer resources that districts, child care centers, Head Start and ECFE programs can use during October to educate kids about the origins of their food and hard-working farmers and ranchers in our country. Some of the tools available include a full toolkit, downloadable coloring sheets, cafeteria posters, stickers, and more. If you already have your plans, submit them to the Farm-to-School Month calendar of activities, or check out the calendar for what others have planned. There's fun in store across the country!
Great Lakes Apple Crunch: Thursday, October 10 at Noon
Here's a fun activity: gather your students together for the celebrated Great Lakes Apple Crunch on Thursday, October 10 at noon. The idea is simple and can be used to highlight farm-to-school month on your school's/district's social media platforms. Simply gather students, give them all a locally grown apple (CKC will provide), and have them simultaneously take a bite while someone snaps a picture. Tag your photos with the designated hashtags: #F2SMonth, #MNAppleCrunch, #MNfarmtoschool. Register your crunch event by September 30 to receive crunch stickers and be eligible for a visit from the MN Timberwolves Mascot...Crunch!
Download a Crunch Guide to help you plan, carry out, and share your celebratory crunch:
Need funding to support your plans for expanding farm-to-school efforts? The USDA FNS Community Food Systems annually awards as much as $5 million in competitive grants to support farm-to-school initiatives. These grants are dispersed to schools in Minnesota via MDE's AGRI Farm to Early Childcare and AGRI Farm to School planning and equipment grants. Apply by November 7! Other sources for grants include:
How to Start a School Garden from the Washington Post