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School Year 2012-2013

Finishing the fall season, we moved over 18,000 pounds of locally grown products between ISD 181 and ISD 484. We’ve also just finished the school year with locally grown hydroponic romaine delivered to all 13 schools within the Brainerd district during the month of May. As we look into summer, we will again begin summer deliveries through ISD 181 for the second summer season.

The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) had made it possible to increase the variety of fresh product delivered into our districts.  Measuring calories, adjusting portions and increasing the availability of a rainbow of colors onto the plates of our kids has impacted Farm to School significantly.  Children are eating kohlrabi sticks, red and green pepper sticks, heirloom watermelons, locally grown cantaloupe, hundreds of ears of sweet corn, red and yellow grape tomatoes, purple and yellow cauliflower and a host of other locally grown products.  Recently, students were served roasted red potatoes with Smude Sunflower oil and locally grown fresh rosemary!  Such sweet success!!

History:

The Farm on St. Mathias is dedicated to the reality of healthy food for our children, including in school lunches.  In our role as members of the Sustainable Farming Association of MN and as Chair of the Central Chapter, we worked with other organizations early in the Spring of 2010 to create the Farm to Cafeteria workshop held in April.  This initiative brought together farmers, food service directors, co-op managers, teachers, daycare providers and others interested in local foods into institutions.  You can read more about the Minnesota Farm To Cafeteria and Farm to School efforts at this article posted on the Rodale Institute website:  http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/20101101_farm-to-school-boosts-local-economy and at this great article (with a fantastic picture!) at the University of Minnesota website:  http://blog.lib.umn.edu/umnext/news/2010/12/farm-to-school-benefits-farmers-kids-communities.php.

From that meeting, we’ve worked with Independent School Districts in the Crow Wing and Cass County areas to begin the work necessary to get locally grown foods onto the lunch plates of kids.  To date, The Farm on St. Mathias has delivered foods to three area schools and we are working at expanding this market to more schools and more farmers.

We continue in our networking with schools, co-ops, hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions to begin the next discussion – how do we move forward and increase the efforts to bring a more diverse variety of locally grown nutritious foods into more institutions and schools.

We also just attended a day of workshops on marketing to institutions.  JoAnne Berkenkamp, IATP Program Director for Local Foods, led a lively discussion on strengthening efforts at Farm 2 School, how the new Food Safety Bill will affect these efforts, and how the movement must be full circle – community based food system curriculum integrated into lesson plans, farmers in schools, food service directors touring farms, and parents leading the way at teaching healthy eating habits.

At the Distribution meeting held Thursday, March 17, 2011 we met with leaders in the ISD #181 school district, Lakewood Hospital, growers from Brainerd/Baxter and Staples farmer’s markets, restaurant industry and economic developers.  This meeting was to discuss a local foods distribution system and to review current models from around the region and country.  There is strong momentum in Farm to School in ISD #181 and in Lakewood Hospital system.  Discussion was lively and brainstorming active!  We believe we can move forward and increase the actual poundage of local foods that moves through the school and local restaurants.  We also believe we can move this initiative into institutions that serve people when they can be the most vulnerable – in hospitals and nursing homes.  The next step is to form committees to discuss local sites, engage real estate leaders, and create a viable business plan for a sustainble system by 2012.  This will not, however, stop the progress we’ve made this year and discussions are continuing with local farmers to fill the need.  We are at the table, have engaged leaders and we will keep you posted.

Well, it’s mid-summer 2011,  July 18, 2011,  and we’ve scoured other systems, met with innovators, carved out and crafted a plan, written a business plan, have engaged in grant writing and will meet again soon to spell out the plan for the 2011-2012 school year.  We are cautiously optimistic,  and have contingency and backup plans crafted as well.  Once a formal plan has been submitted, we will be sharing details.

September, 2011:  Check out this article:  http://brainerddispatch.com/news/2011-09-19/kids-are-loving-it.  Farm to School in Brainerd is very active with the kids sincerely loving introductions to new foods, new colors (purple cauliflower and red carrots).  Many, many thanks to the farmers and especially to the staff for taking on this extra duty, embracing it and helping to promote it!

December 2011:  Ending the season, with well over 10,000 pounds routed through at least 8 of 13 schools in our district, working on building capacity for the 2012 farming season, including ending the school year with more great local food on the plates of the lucky kids who live in our district.  We are so proud of the work we’ve done and the relationships that have been forged.  Here’s to a great 2012!!

April 27, 2012: Letter by Colette Pohlkamp about farm to school. Read it here.
 

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