Locally Sourced Foods A Major Presence On School Menus

With the growing popularity of farmer’s markets and community-sponsored agriculture, schools have also upped their game with locally sourced foods on their menus.

Locally raised Vermont beef used to make hamburgers in Burlington Schools (VT)

Using local ingredients helps schools educate students on the importance of supporting community and knowing where their food comes from.  And schools are getting creative within their communities, featuring everything from locally grown mushrooms and beef raised in the school district to apples picked from a farm down the road from school.

In addition to local sourcing of foods and Farm to School initiatives, schools have implemented  school gardens, making access to local, fresh foods even easier. School gardens provide hands-on education, whether created outside in the elements, grown in hydroponic gardens in the classroom or in greenhouses located on school grounds.  Students learn about cultivation of their own food – growing, nurturing, harvesting of the many foods that will end up on their school lunch trays.

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Burlington School District (VT) has a robust Farm to School program called the Burlington School Food Project, which connects students and their families with whole, fresh, and local foods to improve student learning and the health of the community. The district utilizes nearby co-op farm programs, like the Intervale Community Farm, City Market, Hunger Free VermontVermont Community Garden Network, to ensure local produce is incorporated in weekly, sometimes daily school breakfast and lunch menus. Their flagship educational program, Fork in the Road, is a student-run food truck serving up local foods and life-changing experiences during the summer months when school is out.

To help educate students about where the food they’re eating comes from, Discovery Elementary School in Arlington Public Schools (VA) highlights when an ingredient on their menu comes from a local source. If the Swiss Chard from their school’s very own garden is utilized in the salad bar that day, a note will make sure students are aware. This September, students will enjoy local squash, watermelon, peaches, apples and corn on their menus. Promotional material in the cafeteria and on the school’s social media platforms informs students and parents about the local fare they will be tasting.





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