School Cafeteria’s Serving Up Local Food In MA
Mass Harvest for Mass Students Week Wrap-up
The first ever Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week, organized by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, was a celebration of locally grown food in schools across the state. The week’s goals were to highlight the work that schools all over Massachusetts are already doing to serve local food to their students, and to help more schools get started. We would like to highlight some of the wonderful, fun ways that cafeteria staffs, students, farmers and school administrators participated in this special, festive week.
Schools across the Commonwealth found new ways to showcase the importance of incorporating local foods into schools throughout the week. Somerville Public School students found themselves shucking corn alongside school administrators in preparation for a school lunch showcasing local corn, pears, melon, apples, tomatoes, and zucchini. In Chicopee, where cafeterias regularly feature potato wedges cut from fresh, local potatoes, the students enjoyed another treat: their food service director, teachers, and administrators dancing around in veggie costumes!
The week gave many districts, like Chicopee and Worchester, the opportunity to get the word out about their ongoing relationships with local farmers, while roughly thirty school districts took advantage of the chance to test the waters of buying locally.
Cafeterias were not the only locations to see some local food action, as a variety of other programs were conducted throughout the week. The Wood School in Plainville, MA held an assembly that featured a performance group called FoodPlay, which had kids dancing and laughing while learning about the importance of eating healthy foods. And at Gateway Regional School, special education students took a field trip to a local orchard where they got to tour the farm and pick their own apples.
Approximately 100 Massachusetts school districts and colleges put local foods on their menus for the Mass Harvest for Students Week. According to Kelly Erwin, Managing Consultant for the Mass Farm to School Project, schools that buy locally often see a financial benefit because more students buy school lunches as the meals become more appetizing. Worcester Public Schools, for example, have seen a fifteen percent increase in school lunch purchases since the district began buying locally. But these benefits aren’t limited to the schools-the 50 farms providing products to local schools in Massachusetts are generating more than $700,000 in additional revenue each year. To date there are more than 85 public school districts and 13 colleges across the state serving local food on a regular basis.
(c)2007 CISA Farm to School Monthly Newsletter. Reprinted with permission.