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Farm to School: making vegetables exciting

December 3, 2010
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Yesterday’s Farm to Cafeteria event, sponsored by the Sustainable Farming Association, was one of the more optimistic local foods sessions I have attended. Panelists and speakers shared barriers and words of caution, but followed them with plenty of success stories, creative techniques, and networking opportunities for those interested in pursuing farm-to-school connections. 

The attendees represented a wide range of citizens—farmers and buyers, along with educators, insurance companies, nonprofits and concerned parents—so the session reflected a broad range of interests.  The discussion tended to focus on school cafeterias for much of the day, mostly because there were quite a few interesting success stories to be told in this realm.

One of the best techniques to get kids to try vegetables:  receiving a sticker in exchange for trying an heirloom tomato.  This strategy was highly successful, explained Barb Mechura from the Hopkins school district.   Even the less adventuresome kids were willing to try purple tomatoes when stickers were involved.  Another ploy was to offer trading cards to kids in exchange for trying new vegetables.  They were not action figures or celebrities in the traditional sense — these ingenious trading cards had been made about farmers.  According to testimony from a farmer at Riverbend Farm, the kids went crazy for the cards, swarming their new heros and begging them for autographs.  Case and point:  farmers and vegetables can generate a lot of excitement.

Yesterday’s event unexpectedly (yet felicitously!) occurred on the same day as the house passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307) which now goes to Obama to sign. The house bill offers support to improve school meals, to bolster efforts of farmers through Farm to School programs, and work to take action against obesity rates and help fight hunger issues.  Great news for farmers, students, parents, educators, nutritionists, and other concerned citizens out there!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Rebecca Harnik permalink
    December 3, 2010 11:40 am

    Here’s a short article about the Hopkins school district and their trading cards: http://www.weeklynews.com/main.asp?SectionID=10&SubSectionID=10&ArticleID=7777

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