Minneapolis– Minnesota schools, students and agricultural producers will celebrate Minnesota’s first annual Farm to School Week from September 20–24, 2010. The celebration is designed to increase awareness about the benefits of rapidly growing Farm to School initiatives around the state.
Farm to School Week was initiated by the Minnesota School Nutrition Association (MSNA) and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), whose partnership has helped catalyze Minnesota’s Farm to School movement. During the week of September 20, students across the state will enjoy locally grown sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, melons, grains and other foods at their schools. Participating schools may also schedule visits to nearby farms, offer volunteer opportunities for community members, launch new school gardens and engage in other Farm to School activities that are a priority in their communities.
“Farm to School benefits our students, communities, farmers and the local economy. It’s a positive on so many levels and Farm to School Week is a great way to celebrate that success,” said MSNA President Debra LaBounty.
“Parents, students and educators know that good nutrition is essential if our kids are to be healthy and ready to learn. Small‐ and mid‐size farmers whose products have largely been absent from America’s lunch trays can offer our children fresh, minimally processed choices and a chance to learn how and where their food is grown,” said IATP’s JoAnne Berkenkamp. “Farm to School is good for our kids and for our farmers.”
Farm to School programs are rapidly taking root across the state. A survey of MSNA members released in March 2010 revealed that the number of Minnesota school districts purchasing from local farms had grown to 69, more than double the number from 15 months earlier, according to a survey conducted by MSNA and IATP. Additional schools are expected to launch new Farm to School programs this fall.
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has also developed an extensive promotional package (see www.iatp.org/farm2school) to help schools educate students, parents and others about Farm to School. IATP is making the material available for free to interested schools across the state.
In the coming year, MSNA and IATP will build on the growing momentum for Farm to School to expand farmer involvement, train school foodservice staff, work with more students and increase public awareness.
You can learn more about Farm to School at mnsna.org and iatp.org.