Experts agree that beginning early teaching our kids to love fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy food options in general will reap huge health benefits for their future.
It took some effort for many kids and parents to form new eating habits, but the improvements in school food service have been good for our kids.
The new federal guidelines challenged providers to change their menus and create acceptable and tasty meal items that everyone has approved – kids, parents, teachers, food service staff and the government. School lunch (and breakfast) is much more nutritious with a greater variety of food choices that are opening up our kids’ eyes to new foods, fresh items, seasonings, ethnic foods and even a desire to be chefs!
Good nutrition is becoming a part of life for our kids. They are bringing home what they are learning at school as each discipline has made good nutrition part of the curriculum including English, Math, and Science. This is strengthening the nutritional well-being of the entire family.
One area in which many schools have used nutrition as a part of the curriculum and sustainability of fresh foods in their own cafeteria is in the school garden.
Farm to School Programs
In 2010 Congress designated October Farm to School Month to highlight improvements in childhood nutrition, teaching about the origins of our food, and contributing to the community.
Schools across the country are taking part in the farm to school movement. It targets food insecurity and childhood obesity, teaching kids about healthy food choices and the importance of growing their own food.
Everyone wins when schools become active participants in the farm to school program.
- Kids win by learning about good nutrition and gaining access to local fresh food. They are given the opportunity for hands-on learning that crosses the curriculum.
- Farmers win because they can now sell their locally grown goods to the school and help teach kids and families about farm fresh food.
- The community wins when the local economy is stimulated and the environment is improved through composting and gardening.
Schools are taking advantage of the summer months and growing gardens as part of the summer school program. Kids work with chefs to create meals using their bounty whether fruits, vegetables or herbs. The kids learn not only about food, nutrition and health but life skills. They also get the opportunity to share information about different cultures and food customs.
Repeated positive experiences with food will help kids appreciate the variety of foods available to them and embrace new experiences.
Activities for Us To Get Involved
There are many ways that we can celebrate Farm to School month in our families and our local communities. Here are a baker’s dozen.
- Visit the local farmers market with the kids
- Invite a farmer to talk to the school kids
- Visit a farm in your area and learn more about how our food comes to market
- Try a new food item in season, look for a recipe that you can all make together
- Help your school start or maintain their garden
- Create a taste test party at home or in the school trying new items or old items in new ways
- Help kids plan next year’s at home summer garden
- Get kids in the kitchen to cook!
- Do a cooking class in school with students using items from their garden
- Learn about what local foods are on your child’s school lunch menu
- Ask how your school is buying local which strengthens local economy and supports family farms
- Invite a local government official to join the kids for school lunch
- Have storytelling time and read appropriate stories about food, nutrition, farming and plants or have kids tell their favorite gardening stories to each other
The farm to school movement isn’t just for grades K-12. This program works well for young kids at the preschool level as well.
It’s never too early to start learning about eating right!