For decorative purposes.

Michigan Crunch Guide for Early Care and Education


August 7, 2023

What is the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch?

The Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch encourages healthy eating and supports farm to school and other local food purchasing initiatives throughout the region. It’s also a fun way to connect food and agriculture to classroom curricula – from science to art & more!

Join the Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio in celebrating National Farm to School Month ➚ by crunching into locally and regionally grown apples on an annually designated Crunch Day. Of course, if you are unable to participate on Crunch Day, we still encourage you to plan an Apple Crunch event anytime during October’s National Farm to School Month.

Participants of all ages are invited to crunch!

Please note: The PDF includes clickable links to additional online resources. Clickable links are blue and followed by a blue arrow (➚).

How to get started

Register Your Crunch!

The best first step is to make your Crunch count. Be sure to register your Great Apple Crunch at ➚

Assemble an Apple Crunch Planning Team

Invite teachers, food service staff, administrators, parents, and students to participate in the event planning process.

Find Your Apples

Review the "Find Your Local Apples" section for tips on finding local orchards to supply apples for your Crunch.

Choose Your Crunch Day Activities

In addition to your Great Apple Crunch at noon, plan fun and engaging educational activities, lessons, field trips, or farmer visits to celebrate Crunch Day!

Prepare Your Community for the Crunch

See "Promote Your Crunch" for tips to spread the word about your Crunch and build excitement, fundraise, or find volunteers for your event!

Amplify Your Crunch

Read "Share Your Story" and learn to amplify your Crunch through photos, social media, TV, newspaper, and radio!

Find Your Local Apples

Remember: The goal of the Crunch is to support our local farmers by purchasing the fruits of their labors! Always inquire about buying apples, but be open to donations if they are offered.

Cultivate Michigan Sourcing Guide

The best source for local apples! This guide includes a food hub and produce distributor directory, and apple sourcing information (description, pack size, item code) for numerous distributors and food hubs. ➚

Cultivate Michigan Apple Promotion Page

Includes various apple promotional materials for institutions sourcing Michigan apples, perfect for showing off your crunch related activities! ➚

Michigan 10 Cents Per Meal Program

Program to help increase school purchases of Michigan grown products. Includes resources for procurement. ➚

Michigan Apples Sourcing Guide

A guide to finding Michigan apples from the Michigan Apple Committee ➚

Michigan Farmers Market Association ➚

USDA On-Farm Market Directory ➚

Taste the Local Difference Find Food and Farms Tool ➚

Michigan Market Maker ➚

How to Purchase Your Apples

Visit the Farmers Market

Here you'll find the most apple varieties, meet your farmers, and hand pick the right-sized apples, while using your nutrition program dollars.

Ask Your Current Vendors

Ask your broadline or produce distributors if they have any local, farm-identified apples available.

Buy From Local Orchards

Ask for small apples that are harder for farmers to sell, but perfect for kids! Find local farms in the "Find Your Local Apples" section of this Crunch Guide.

Find a Food Hub

Food hubs and regional produce aggregators may have just what you need. Check out the USDA Local Food Hub Directory ➚

Stop at a Farm Stand

Visit a local farm stand or U-pick and get apples from where they are grown!

Shop Local at the Grocery Store

Look for apples identified as "local" or "Michigan-grown" at your local grocery store or food co-op.

Read This Resource

Use the Michigan Farm to Early Childhood Programs Guide ➚ to support your local purchasing and Apple Crunch efforts.

ECE Recipes

Cultivate Michigan Recipe Book

This recipe guide for institutions features many Michigan products including apples! ➚

Apple Salad

A tangy take on yogurt parfait, with a million ways to make it local. Recipe Here ➚

Berry Bonanza

A unique, no-cook yogurt and oatmeal breakfast featuring seasonal fruits. Recipe Here ➚

Rhubarb Applesauce

A great recipe for the kitchen, or a classroom activity. Recipe Here ➚

Golden Rays

A warm and delicious twist on traditional oatmeal! Recipe Here ➚

Bookworm Apple Bark

Local apple slices topped with peanut butter, herbs & dried fruit for a perfect snack. Recipe Here ➚

Baked Batatas & Apples

Slightly sweet, the perfect treat - sweet potatoes and local apples that credit for veggies and fruit! Recipe Here ➚

Apple Jacked Pancakes

Try purchasing locally grown whole grains for this fun breakfast recipe. Recipe Here ➚

Crunch Time Tips

  • To ensure everyone can enjoy the Crunch and that apples don’t go to waste, consider cutting apples into halves or slices for younger students.
  • Make the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch into a school-wide celebration by pairing older students and younger students together for crunch time.
  • Don’t forget to appoint a parent, teacher, student or community member to act as photographer or videographer and capture all the action of the Great Apple Crunch!
  • Post to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #GreatAppleCrunch #CultivateMichigan #F2SMonth #MIAppleCrunch

Keep The Crunch Going All Day!

  • Taste test multiple apple varieties and vote on your favorite.
  • Feature a recipe with local apples in school breakfast or lunch throughout October.
  • Invite a local farmer to the classroom or cafeteria to participate in the event!
  • Arrange a field trip to a local orchard and Crunch under the trees.
  • Lead a hands-on cooking class for students featuring a healthy apple recipe.
  • Take a look at the apple-based learning ideas on the next two pages to connect your Crunch to the classroom.

Connect to Learning

The Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch is easily extended into developmentally appropriate apple-based learning activities for a creative way enhance children's connections with food and healthy eating! Check out the resources below for apple-themed learning activities.

Lesson Plans and Farm to ECE Resources for Apple Crunch

More Fun Apple Learning Activities

It's simple to include books, songs, cooking activities, dramatic play, drawing, charts & graphs, classroom murals and visits from special guests to celebrate the Apple Crunch. These activities are a great way to include farm to early care and education (ECE) into your classroom on a regular basis. Farm to ECE teaches kids where food comes from, what is grown in your local area, and is a perfect way to meet learning standards.

Reading Books About Apples is a Great Way to Celebrate the Crunch

  • Ten Apples Inside by Dr. Seuss
  • The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Trees by Gail Gibbons
  • Up, Up, Up! It's Apple-Picking Time by Jody Fickes Shapiro
  • How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro
  • Just One Apple by Janosch
  • Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
  • A Tree Is a Plant by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
  • Anna Cultiva Manzanas by Monica Wellington
  • Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington
  • ¡Deliciosas manzanas! by Tina Athaide
  • The Apple Tree, A Modern Day Cherokee Story Told in English and Cherokee by Sandy Tharp-Lee

Singing Songs About Apples Engages Children in a Fun Way

Three Red Apples: Adapted from a song by Jean Warren

Three red apples high on the tree,
One fell down next to me.
I gave it to mother and this is what she said, "I love apples, juicy and red".
Two red apples high on the tree,
One fell down next to me.
I gave it to sister and this is what she said,
"I love apples, juicy and red".
One read apple high on the tree,
One fell down next to me.
I gobbled it up and this is what I said,
"No more apples, juicy and red!"

Apples, Apples: Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Apples juicy, apples round;
On the tree or on the ground.
Apples yellow, apples red,
Apple pie and juice and bread!
Apples crunchy, apples sweet;
Apples are so good to eat

Creative Apple Learning Examples

  • Decorate an apple tree with colorful apples painted by children
  • Trace hands to make apple trees
  • Do a taste test with different varieties of apples, and children to describe the taste of each. Make a chart to write down apple flavors or vote with stickers.
  • Invite a chef to prepare a healthy apple recipe with children

Promote Your Crunch

Gather a few staff, parents, or community members and create a small team to plan your Crunch activities, find local apples, and promote your event. Make sure you spread the word to children, families, staff, teachers, and the community to maximize the learning opportunities from the Crunch. Here are some general outreach ideas:

  • Announce the Crunch in your newsletter, email, or during pick-up and drop-off. Use this opportunity to find volunteers to help with classroom or kitchen Apple Crunch activities.
  • Promote the event through social media using the hashtags #MIAppleCrunch, #F2SMonth, #MILittleCrunchers and #CultivateMichigan. On Facebook, repost the "We Registered" badge, and share the Crunch Countdown posts.
  • Ask parents to donate local apples, or funds you can use to purchase apples from the local farmers' market.
  • Arrange a special Apple Crunch education session that’s open to everyone. Offer apples, share apple nutrition information, and hand out recipes to use at home. Be sure to find a time where most parents and caretakers can join.
  • Create Crunch flyers or posters to decorate your classroom, hang in your center, or send home. Use the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch logo, or ask children to draw apple designs for your event!
  • Mark the Crunch on your meal and snack menu, include the orchard that grew the apples.
  • Make a Crunch Countdown calendar for the classroom and practice counting each day!

Share Your Story

It’s not a Crunch heard 'round the region unless you get the word out far and wide! 

Important reminder: Make sure you have appropriate photo release forms for youth featured in your Great Apple Crunch photos.

  • Inform local newspapers and television reporters know about your Apple Crunch. Send a press release or invitation to join your event. Click here ➚ for a template press release to customize for your outreach. Use the celebration as a way to share more about your farm to school activities, local food purchasing, and National Farm to School Month.
  • Get out your camera, smartphone, or video device and take a “crunch byte” to share through social media.
  • Share your event widely through Facebook and other social media! Post to your page and with the Michigan Apple Crunch page too! Facebook:➚
    *Note: any photos or videos posted to social media may be used in future Apple Crunch promo material.
  • Use the hashtags #F2SMonth #MIAppleCrunch and #CultivateMichigan to share your images on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Great Lakes Apple Crunch Logo

Don’t forget to download your copy of the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch logo. Use the logo to promote the Great Apple Crunch around your community, on your website, and on social media.

You will find various public logo files for your state at the link below. Customize promotional items like posters, blog posts, and social media content. Click this link to access the logo files.

For More Information

  • Mariel Borgman
    Community Food Systems Educator
    Michigan State University Extension
    989-506-3922 |
  • Kelly McClelland
    Community Food Systems Educator
    Michigan State University Extension
    810-244-8555 |
  • Garrett Ziegler
    Community Food Systems Educator
    Michigan State University Extension
    616-608-7436 |

Join the Michigan Farm to Institution Network ➚ and  Cultivate Michigan ➚

For more information on the Great Lakes Apple Crunch: ➚

Discover Farm to School Month: ➚

Download the sample press release at this website:➚


Accessibility Questions:

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