October is National Farm to School Month and there is a lot to celebrate in Madison. REAP Food Group’s Farm to School program is entering its 13th year. This school year the program will be serving local fruit and vegetable snacks each week to more than 5,000 students in 13 schools with a higher number of students from low-income households, teaching nutrition and agricultural concepts so students understand where their food comes from and how it was grown, providing hands-on culinary training, and transforming school lunch with garden bars at 32 elementary, middle and high schools. REAP and MMSD Food & Nutrition plan to increase local fruits and vegetables served from 50,000 pounds in 2015-16 to 100,000 pounds in 2016-17.
“Having REAP here to work with our kids is really a vital component of what we’re doing,” says Steve Youngbauer, MMSD Food & Nutrition Director. “It takes multiple times of getting students exposed to different types of food to really make healthy habits become something that will hopefully last a lifetime.”
Farm to School Month happenings:
Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch on October 13 – On Thursday, October 13, all 25,000 MMSD students will crunch into apples grown on orchards less than 100 miles away. REAP will be leading the Crunch at Midvale Elementary School in Madison. The Crunch is part of a regional effort to highlight local food in cafeterias.
The goal is to have one million people participating at schools, organizations, and businesses throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana. Groups can sign up to crunch at cias.wisc.edu/applecrunch. Visit the Facebook page.
Farm to School Night Out on October 19 – Madisonians are encouraged to dine out or get carry-out on Wednesday, October 19 to support REAP’s Farm to School program. Nearly 20 local restaurants will be donating 10% of sales that day to REAP. A list of participating restaurants can be found at reapfoodgroup.org/events/nightout.
Improving the School Eating Environment – REAP is working with Lindbergh Elementary School and local artists to create a kid-inspired mural that encourages healthy living. The mural is part of REAP's Healthy Cafeteria Makeover Project, funded by a City of Madison SEED Grant. The mural will be unveiled at a school open house on Tuesday, October 25 at 5:30 p.m.
Wisconsin Produce for Lunch – Last year, nearly 15,000 pounds of local foods were served in schools during October. This year, the goal is to serve 20,000 pounds. Schools will serve local cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, bell peppers, zucchini/squash, apples, and romaine lettuce. The produce will be from Amazing Grace Family Farm (Janesville), Becker Family Farm (Lodi), Mammoth Produce (Randolph), and Parrfection Produce (Albany).
About the Farm to School Project:
The Farm to School Project is an official partnership between REAP Food Group and the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Food & Nutrition Department. Farm to School has been shown to increase kids’ consumption of fruits and vegetables and improve local economies. To learn more, visit www.reapfoodgroup.org/farm-to-school.
Questions? Hannah Wente, firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 310-7835