Signature event, Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch, continues through end of month
October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate connections between children and local food. Farm to school is a broad term for efforts to promote the health of children, farms, and communities by connecting schools to local farms that supply fresh, healthy foods.
The Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch, took place at noon on Oct. 12, drawing attention to Farm to School Month. Wisconsin residents, along with others in the Great Lakes Region, crunched into locally grown apples and will be sharing the results on social media, using the following hashtags: #GreatAppleCrunch, #WIAppleCrunch, #F2SMonth, #OneMillionCrunches. Learn more and register for the crunch at: www.cias.wisc.edu/AppleCrunch. While the bulk of crunching occurred on Oct 12th, Wisconsin farm to school supporters are encouraged to register and participate in the crunch throughout the month of October.
“Farm to school is a win-win-win for farmers, local economies and child health,” says Amber Canto, council member and coordinator of the FoodWIse program at the University of Wisconsin-Extension. “Through farm to school efforts, children are exposed to nutritious Wisconsin-grown products and Wisconsin agriculture gets a boost.”
Wisconsin farm to school efforts bring local or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias and classrooms. They include hands-on learning activities such as youth gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes and integration of food-related education into the classroom. In 2016, there were nearly 400 farm to school and farm to early care programs operating throughout the state, with over $9 million worth of products supporting healthier meals for children.
Wisconsin has been recognized as a national leader in farm to school, including hosting last year’s annual National Farm to Cafeteria Conference. The 2009 Wisconsin Act 293 established state support for farm to school efforts. Included in this legislation was the creation of the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Farm to School Advisory Council to provide leadership for the promotion of farm to school in Wisconsin.
Hosted by DATCP, the Farm to School Advisory Council most recently operated under DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel, who retired in August 2017. Throughout his tenure, Brancel was a strong supporter of Farm to School and an advocate connecting local farmers to this supply chain.
“We are grateful for Secretary Brancel’s leadership in providing Wisconsin children with access to healthy, Wisconsin-grown foods in their school meals,” says Canto. “The Farm to School Advisory Council looks forward to working closely on farm to school strategies with the next Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to ensure local food production is a more economically viable option for many Wisconsin growers.”
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About the United States Department of Agriculture Farm to School Program
USDA’s Farm to School Program is housed in the Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS). OCFS helps child nutrition program operators incorporate local foods in the National School Lunch Program and its associated programs, as well as the Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program.
About the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Farm to School Advisory Council
The Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Farm to School Advisory Council includes: farmers, experts in child health, school food service personnel, representatives of the Departments of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection, Health Services and Public Instruction, and others with interest in agriculture, nutrition and education.
DATCP Farm to School Advisory Council Membership includes:
- Amazing Grace Family Farm
- American Family Children’s Hospital
- Hold Community Consulting and Fort Farmers Market
- Janesville School District
- Mutch Better Foods, LLC
- Wisconsin Association of School Boards
- Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
- Wisconsin Farmers Union
- Wisconsin School Nutrition Association
- University of Wisconsin Athletics
- University of Wisconsin-Extension