Time to crunch with farm to school

Farm and Food

By Justin Carter, former staff member

Fall is here which is the perfect time for students to bite into local foods. 

October is Farm to School Month when Nebraska will be defending its title in the Mountain Plains Crunch Off. During this event, our state competes with Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota on the number of students who crunch into local foods.

While the event is only one day, it can be a valuable experience and inspire teachers, administrators, and students to learn more about their local food system. 

In previous years, schools have partnered with local farms and processors to make farm to school a reality. For example, East Butler Public Schools in Brainard paired with farmers to supply their salad bar and Thayer Central Community Schools in Hebron worked with beef producers to obtain local meat.

Consumption of local foods brings improved nutrition and education to our students, but it also stimulates economic activity. According to the National Farm to School Network, each dollar invested in farm to school stimulates an additional $0.60 to $2.16. This money remains in our communities, fueling our local farmers and businesses.

Time and again, farm to school has proven that it’s a win for our students, farmers, and rural communities. While 2020 is a complicated year, we remain confident that farm to school can still work.

Registration for the Crunch Off can be found on the Nebraska Department of Education website, education.ne.gov/ns/farm-to-school/mountain-plains-crunch/. If you’re learning from home, you can take part as the contest is open to families as well as schools.

Feel free to contact the Center for Rural Affairs for resources on finding local crunchy foods, such as apples. More Farm to School program information can be found at cfra.org/f2s