Celebrate National Farm to School Month this October
Check out these ideas for planning a Farm to School activity appropriate for your school's meal program.
Now that the hubbub of back to school has subsided and summer has officially come to a close, we can turn our sights to celebrating National Farm to School month in October. Although adding any extra events or celebrations in the first month of school can feel daunting, October’s recognition of Farm to School is perfectly timed as food service program staff are beginning to find their rhythm and seasonal produce is still available in the United States’ northern climates. Michigan’s harvest is in full swing with a delightful array of delicious produce and other agricultural products available.
Food service programs in schools, early care education and communities across the country are planning ways to highlight Farm to School in October. If you would like to celebrate, but aren’t quite sure how, don’t despair! Fortunately, there are people who have put time and energy into compiling resources and information to assist with planning and to provide inspiration.
The National Farm to School Network has compiled a wide variety of resources and activities that can get you started on planning your celebration. The Farm to School month landing page includes resources such as a Farm to School fact sheet, posters, stickers, and coloring activities. There is also a searchable national calendar of events to assist you with locating events in your community or to help you brainstorm ideas for your own! Be sure to follow along via the Network’s social media accounts to see how others around the country are celebrating.
In Michigan, a relatively easy and popular event to plug into is the Michigan Apple Crunch. This year’s crunch is the sixth annual event and will be celebrated on Tuesday, October 23rd. Schools, classrooms, early care programs, work places or any group of people can sign up for the collective crunch of a Michigan apple. Upwards of 400,000 participants are expected to join in the event this year. Participating in the crunch can be adapted as needed into a simple gathering or to include educational activities and fanfare to celebrate Michigan agriculture. You can read more about the crunch, find resources and sign up at this link.
You can also find Michigan specific farm to school resources through the Michigan Farm to Institution Network to assist with multiple aspects of farm to school program planning. Cultivate Michigan, the local purchasing campaign of the Farm to Institution Network, also has a set of resources to help you find, buy and use local foods in your school food service program.
Another resource portal is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Community Food Systems. The USDA’s Farm to School activities are housed in this office and has a multitude of guides, videos, fact sheets and other resources to deepen your knowledge of farm to school and related programs.
Lastly, it is worth noting that the Michigan Good Food Summit is occurring on October 22nd. This biannual statewide event brings together people working towards the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter for a day of sharing, learning and of course, eating great food. This year the theme is Amplifying Voices for Equity and the agenda has a powerful line-up of speakers, many of whom will address farm to school, early care and institution topics. Attending this event towards the end of the month would be a perfect way to get energized and connected to the impactful work happening throughout the state. A full agenda and registration are available at this site.
Keep in mind that the size and scale of your farm to school event is not the measuring stick for a successful celebration. Any extra effort to showcase Michigan agriculture, healthy and fresh eating and the power of our food choices can have a big impact!