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!
Here's a fun activity: gather your students together for a celebrated Apple Crunch. 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, and have them simultaneously take a bite while someone snaps a picture. (For those of you in the south, there are variations using citrus fruit rather than apples.) There are several apple crunches, with dates varying throughout the month:
If it doesn't work for you to time your crunch to coincide with other districts, no worries. It will still be a great way to show off farm-to-school to your social followers.
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 typically dispersed via state agencies through a formal application and review process. (Minnesota is seeking applicants for the AGRI Farm to Early Childcare and AGRI Farm to School planning and equipment grants through November 7.) The Whole Kids Foundation also is currently seeking grantees for its school gardens, salad bars and beehive grants. Apply by October 15.
How to Start a School Garden from the Washington Post