Celebrate the Local Harvest
Schools serve up healthy local foods to students
BOSTON – Fall in Massachusetts is peak harvest time: apples and pears are ripening in the orchards and vegetables are ready in the fields. Students throughout the Commonwealth will be savoring these locally grown foods as part of the 7th annual Harvest for Students Week September 30 – October 4, 2013.
During Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week, schools and colleges promote the local harvest and serve fresh, nutritious meals prepared with foods produced by Massachusetts’ farms. It’s a time for institutions to highlight their successful locally grown food initiatives or to purchase and offer locally grown products for the first time. In addition to serving a wide range of Massachusetts grown foods in the cafeterias, school activities during Harvest for Students Week will include visits from local farmers, school garden activities, sending home local produce “goody bags” to families, and corn shucking with students.
Harvest for Students Week was created by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, which coordinates it each year in collaboration with partners like the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts, and the Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week is a delicious celebration of our local harvest and the relationships that have developed between school food services and farms all over the state,” said Kelly Erwin, Director of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. “Bringing local foods into cafeterias ensures that ALL young people, regardless of circumstances, have access to healthy, delicious, locally grown foods.”
Studies show that students who are served fresh, locally grown items tend to eat significantly more fruits and vegetables. Farm to school connections are making a positive difference at a time of concern about childhood obesity and local food security, while simultaneously improving the local economy and opportunities for Massachusetts farms.
Mass. Harvest for Students Week will be widely celebrated throughout the state, where the number of public school districts reporting they preferentially purchase locally grown foods has grown from fewer than 20 in 2004 to more than 230 in 2012. A majority of these districts report they increased the amount of their locally grown food purchases during 2011-2012. The number of farms reporting they sell directly to school and college cafeterias has also grown steadily, to 114 in 2012.
For more information, visit www.massfarmtoschool.org or call 413-253-3844.
The Massachusetts Farm to School Project offers individualized assistance and group trainings to farms, food distributors, food service operations at schools, colleges, and other institutions that are interested in establishing sustainable purchasing relationships. Since 2004, the Project has been promoting the consumption of locally grown foods in schools and other institutions, for the good of our children, our communities, and our economy.
How Schools and Colleges Across the State Plan to Celebrate Mass. Harvest for Students Week 2013
If your city or town is not on this list, contact your area school or college food service director to find out what their plans are.
Amherst – UMass Amherst will host local farmer visits and fresh, local produce sampling all week in dining halls, In addition, guest chef Ross Kamens, founder of Revolutionary Food will visit and cook on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Cambridge – On Thursday, October 3, Peabody School will be celebrating Harvest Week with a ribbon cutting for a new salad bar featuring local produce.
Chicopee – Chicopee Public Schools will be serving local produce from Czajkowski Farm daily and farmer Joe Czajkowski will come for lunch one day. Students will also go home with grab bags of local produce, recipes and Farm to School materials to share with their parents.
Franklin – Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School will be offering a special locally-grown dish and inviting local farmers. They will also be having on the last Friday of each month a local politician come in to serve with us. The students will make posters and we will be having a recipe contest in the later months.
Groton – Groton School will be featuring three to five local products every day to be used at each of the meal periods during the week. Look for menu items such as grilled vegetable frittata using local produce, eggs, & farmers cheese for breakfast. Locally raised turkey with grilled peaches at lunch and local roast pork & paula red applesauce with local blueberry pie for dinner.
Mendon-Upton – Schools will be offering locally grown apples, pears from Lanni Orchards at school lunches during that week.
Waltham – Healthy Waltham will be providing zucchini and summer squash grown at Waltham Fields Community Farm to the public schools. They will end Harvest Week by opening the farm to the public with lots of fun activities.
Williamsburg – Students from the Anne T. Dunphy School (currently under construction) will sell the garlic that they planted last spring at the Burgy Farmer’s Market on Thursday October 3rd!
Worcester – Chandler Elementary School students participating in Mass. Farm to School Project’s Worcester Kindergarten Initiative will be joined by the Regional Environmental Council’s Mobile Farmers Market and volunteers from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. They’ll be doing fun vegetable activities and handing out local pears for students to take home.
Worcester – Assumption College will host a week of events featuring local farmers and the foods they grow.