OCTNatFarm2SchoolMonth

September 29-October 3, 2014 is MA Harvest for Students Week and the start of National Farm to School Month!

On October 2, 2014, Boston Public Schools is featuring locally grown corn for Local Lunch Thursday.  Also look out for other locally grown items available at the East Boston High Salad Bar that is re-opening this week as well!

Deborah Kane, National Director of the USDA Farm to School Program is launching a series of videos each week to celebrate National Farm to School Month.  Check out the first video here:

Check back here each week to learn something new about Farm to School in the month of October!

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This week USDA announced its first round of USDA Farm to School Grantees, totaling $4.5 million in grants for 68 projects, spanning 37 states and the District of Columbia. These grants will support programs that are increasing access to local foods for 1.75 million students in more than 3,200 schools across the country.

In Massachusetts, Boston Public Schools is one of three projects receiving Farm to School funding from USDA.  Congratulations to the MA Farm to School Project and Ezra H. Baker Elementary School (West Dennis, MA)!

The BPS Farm to School Initiative is excited about this opportunity to take farm to school to the next level in Boston! BPS has significantly increased access to local produce through Local Lunch Thursdays in our full kitchen cafeterias over the past few years.  The next step is to make sure students, parents, and teachers know that these healthy options are available and to get them excited about trying these local veggies on the lunch line.  This grant will support the BPS Farm to School Initiative’s efforts in engaging students with the locally grown produce in the cafeteria and connecting with existing school-based educational resources (i.e. school gardens, wellness councils, etc.) and community partners to provide farm field trips, culinary training and much more. Stay tuned for more details about the BPS Farm to School Initiative this year!

Also f you’d like to learn about the other projects that are being funded check out the USDA website.

The USDA Farm to School Grants are a result of The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) that amended Section 18 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) to establish a Farm to School program to assist eligible entities, through grants and technical assistance, in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools.

 Farm to School is one component of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, launched in 2009 to coordinate the Department’s work on local and regional food systems and create new opportunities for farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural communities.

In the fall issue of Edible Boston, Boston Public Schools is featured in this article by Susan McCrory about locally grown produce on the lunch line.  The article looks at Boston, Arlington, Concord, Lynn and Framingham public schools’ efforts to bring local produce into school cafeterias and discusses some of the challenges of using seasonal produce on the lunch line, getting kids to try new items, having a limited amount time during the school day to feed and educate students about what’s on the line, while also working within a tight budget.

McCrory big take away is that:

There is more than one challenge in implementing the Farm to School model for Massachusetts Food Service Directors. But, the overarching need is to bring together good-food education with demand and supply in a way that is sustainably profitable for all parties…We must be realistic: America is never going to return to being a fully agrarian society. Instead, you just keep innovating and making things work since, in the optimistic words of Alden Cadwell, “anything is possible.”

In Boston we’re making local food possible on the lunch line each week with Local Lunch Thursdays.  Look out for the locally grown coleslaw (cabbage and carrots) and roasted carrots on the lunch line tomorrow in cafeteria schools across the city!

To learn more about what other districts are doing to bring local produce to their cafeterias check out the rest of Susan McCrory’s article at here.

During the month of October, school districts in all 50 states are celebrating connections being made between schools and their local farms for National Farm to School Month.  Farm to school programs are a part of a grassroots movement that looks a little different in each school/school district.  Farm to School efforts are aiming to:

  • increase the amount of fresh, locally grown produce in school meals
  • support local and regional farmers
  • connect students to agriculture, food and nutrition education through farm field trips, school garden education and much more.

What’s happening in Boston Public Schools during National Farm to School Month?

Local Lunch Thursdays are back!  Check out the menu in our full kitchen cafeteria schools, and give the local harvest a try on the lunch line!

  • Thursday 10/18. Locally Grown Cabbage and Carrot Coleslaw
  • Thursday 10/25. Locally Grown Butternut Squash and Locally Grown Collard Greens

What are some of our partners up to during National Farm to School Month?

theMOVE is a local nonprofit leading reflective farm-volunteer field trips with diverse groups in the Metro-Boston Area.  This month theMOVE is taking BPS students to nearby farms:

Tuesday, 10/23, students from the Lila G Frederick School are heading to to Brookwood Farm
Friday, 10/26, students from the Boston Teachers Union School are heading to Fat Moon Farm

Mass. Farm to School Project recently launched their new website and wrapped up their 6th annual Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week.   This month they are launching the new MA Farm to School Network which is designed to support practitioners working on the ground in every aspect of the farm to school movement – from school nutrition professionals to school garden coordinators to farm based educators and beyond.  BPS Farm to School is proud to be a part of this Network!

FoodCorps Service Members  Dan Chamberlain and Norris Guscott are continuing to lead school garden efforts at Orchard Gardens K-8 and Dearborn Middle School this month!

 

 

Is YOUR school doing something special this month to connect BPS students to agriculture, food and nutrition education? Please share! We’d love to know what you are up to!