Welcome to Harvest for Students Week!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013 0 Comments A + a -

Fall is definitely in the air... and there isn't a better time of the year for the harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Hence, the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, which the MURSD just joined, is sponsoring its 7th annual Harvest for Students Week 2013.  The week kicks off the larger National Farm to School month (October).  Both the national and state projects have the same mission:  to encourage healthy food choices by increasing students' exposure to seasonal fruits and vegetables while also supporting local farmers and heightening interest in school meals.

I am excited that the district has joined the Farm to School Project.  Actually, I feel as if it is a no-brainer, given what we want to accomplish in teaching kids life-long healthy eating habits and the proud farming tradition of our two communities.  Our entree into the program will start with the project's Harvest of the Month campaign, where a new, locally grown fruit or vegetable will be introduced in our four schools' cafeterias each month.  With this campaign a different Massachusetts-grown crop will be featured in a meal at least twice per month.  The featured crops for the next few months are:

September- tomatoes
October- pears
November- apples
December- kale/collard greens
January- butternut squash
February- carrots

The Farm to School Project will provide us with plenty of promotional material, recipes, etc. to publicize the crops.  They also have created partnerships with large local growers who provide participating districts with the produce at cut rates, ones that are typically better than the state's technical bids for food service programs.  For example, the pears and apples we will be serving are fresh from Lanni Orchards in Lunenberg.  Hence, it's a win-win situation.

Changing habits is never easy, and this is definitely true when introducing new foods to kids.  Apples? Probably no problem.... but kale???  This is where our Food Service Director Dianne Braga and her talented managers must meet the challenge.  Dianne tells me that they will be coming up with creative, kid-friendly choices that they will sample throughout the months.  (She shared with me the recipe for baked kale chips:  think of a healthier potato chip that is baked with a touch of olive oil and sea salt!) Whatever the recipe, the staff will first sample it to students before scaling to a full side for a lunch.

Kudos to Dianne and the cafeteria staff for bringing this worthwhile program to the MURSD!

State Senator Richard Moore, MURSD Food Service Director Dianne Braga and I
gave fresh apples, pears, and apple cider to Miscoe 6th graders today.