MINNEAPOLIS – Governor Mark Dayton on Thursday, August 25, proclaimed September as Farm to School Month in recognition of the many benefits that Farm to School brings to K-12 students and the local agricultural economy in Minnesota.
Farm to School initiatives connect school children with locally grown food and the farmers who grow it. Farm to School also helps support children’s health by increasing the use of fresh fruits and vegetables and other minimally processed local foods in school meals, and by providing educational opportunities for students.
The request for the Farm to School Proclamation was initiated by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a long-running advocate for Farm to School in Minnesota and around the country. “On behalf of all Minnesotans involved in Farm to School, I would like to thank the Governor for recognizing the growing importance of this initiative to our state,” said JoAnne Berkenkamp, Local Foods program director at IATP. “September promises to be an exciting month as Minnesota schools showcase fresh Farm to School foods, educate their students about healthy eating and open up new markets for our region’s small- and mid-sized farmers.”
Participating schools will serve local favorites ranging from sweet corn, tomatoes and carrots to apples, cantaloupe and watermelon. In addition, many schools will provide students with educational opportunities including visits from local farmers and gardening activities.
Participation in Farm to School has grown rapidly, from just ten districts in 2006 to 123 districts around the state in 2010, according to a survey conducted by IATP and the Minnesota School Nutrition Association (MSNA). In response, annual Farm to School celebrations have been expanded from one week last year to the full month of September 2011. Many schools will continue their Farm to School activities throughout the school year.
For more information, see www.iatp.org and www.farm2schoolmn.org.