Harvest of the Month: Local and Fresh
September - Beautiful Local Heirloom Tomatoes
October- The Color of Rainbow Bell Peppers
November - Vitamin Packed Kale
December - Red Kabocha Squash
January - Red and Green Cabbage
February- Spaghetti Squash
March- Washington State Potatoes
April - Pacific Northwest Lentils
May/June- Fresh Spring Salad Turnips or Radishes
“Eat Real Food” Farm to School Program
When it comes to the food we serve our students, we believe in following three basic rules of thumb: Keep it real. Keep it healthy. Keep it local. That’s why we’re proud to offer a robust Farm to School program that strives to change the way kids think about food by teaching them where their food comes from and how it grows.
Our “Eat Real Food” Farm to School Program showcases Washington-grown fruits and vegetables on our school breakfast and lunch menus, teaching kids that fresh produce is not only good for them, it tastes great, too. Students develop a personal connection with their food and local farmers by participating in farm field trips, Chefs and Farmers in School Food Science events, and our Harvest of the Month program that allows students to sample a new Washington-grown fruit or vegetable each month and learn where and how it grows.
Why is Farm-to-School Important?
Across the nation there are over 2300 “farm-to-school” programs that are bringing more fresh, healthy, and locally-produced foods into school cafeterias, reinvigorating local and regional farm economies, and fostering lifelong healthy eating habits among children and their families.
With childhood obesity, diabetes, and other nutrition-related diseases on the rise, parents and educators want to see children eating more healthy foods. At the same time, small farms are struggling to survive. Farm-to-school programs address both of these community concerns. Farm-to-school can help:
- Provide children with more fresh, nutritious foods.
- Improve children’s health
- Encourage lifelong healthy eating habits
- Enhance children’s “food literacy” by familiarizing students with foods grown nearby, teaching them how and where their food is
grown, building knowledge about how to prepare healthy foods, and educating them about the health, nutrition, social and environmental impacts of food choices
- Support Washington’s farmers with local markets for their crops
- Reduce negative environmental impacts including energy use, waste, and climate change pollution by decreasing food packaging, refrigeration, storage, and transportation
- Help preserve our rural communities
- Promote awareness of how food choices impact our health, our communities, and the environment
Creating lifelong healthy eaters by connecting the cafeteria to the classroom and the community
Harvest of the Month introduces farm fresh produce to students in the Cheney School District through the school lunch program. This year, students will taste fresh fruits and vegetables including purple potatoes, kale, tops-on carrots, lentils, asparagus, apples, berries and more. Nutrition Services will continue to make new connections with local farmers and food producers to help expand the selection of local foods featured on our menus.
Here are some ways that you can share the Harvest of the Month experience:
- Talk about upcoming Harvest of the Month foods at home: Look up fun facts about each featured food on www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.
- Serve Harvest of the Month items at home: Watch for special promotions of these seasonal foods in local stores and get your children involved in shopping, selecting a recipe and preparing the foods at home. Kid-tested recipes are available at www.superhealthykids.com or www.cookusinterruptus.com.
- Buy lunch on Harvest of the Month days. If your children are not regular lunch participants, buying lunch on the Harvest of the Month day sends a message that you support our efforts to offer foods grown in Washington State to our students.
Monthly Materials: Harvest of the Month
One of the priorities of the Harvest of the Month program is to link the cafeteria with the classroom. Learning about new foods is a fun and safe way to encourage kids to try new things and changes the way they think about food and how it grows.
Each month cafeterias are provided with materials focusing on the featured local food item. Materials are then displayed on their Harvest of the Month display boards located in the cafeteria. The nutrition educator packet provides key information about the featured item as well as resources to further explore each fruit or vegetable. It incorporates hands-on activities, tools and ideas for open-ended exploration by students. The packet promotes mathematics, science, health, reading and gardening, all centered on the highlighted food. It is meant for teachers, but is appropriate for anyone teaching nutrition education to our students.
As a parent, community member, and as a chef, it is very important to give our kids the opportunity to see food in it's real form. Locally sourced and fresh. Seeing our kids make the right choices when it comes to meals and snack is a mission of mine. Education is not limited to the classroom and my team is dedicated to sharing these local gifts from the ground. Hippocrates said it best, 'Let Food be thy Medicine; Let Medicine be thy Food'.
Chef Klinkenberg CEC, ACE, CCA
Director of Nutrition