BOZEMAN – A Montana State University-based program that provides nutrition education and training in schools has been recognized nationally for its continued leadership in the farm to school and farm to early care and education (or ECE) movements in Montana.
From school gardens and farm field trips to local food on lunch trays, farm to school and ECE practices help children learn about where food comes from and to make healthier choices, while also creating new markets for local and regional farmers and food producers.
More than 40 percent of Montana schools are now engaged in farm to school efforts that contributed an estimated $1.6 million to Montana businesses in the 2013-2014 school year, according to Aubree Roth, Montana Farm to School coordinator with the Montana Team Nutrition Program.
In addition, nearly 150 sites are currently participating in the Montana Harvest of the Month program, a collaboration of the Montana Team Nutrition Program, the Office of Public Instruction, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, MSU Extension, Gallatin Valley Farm to School and FoodCorps Montana, which showcases a different Montana grown or raised food each month in school meals, snacks, taste tests and educational activities, Roth said.
According to Roth, Montana Team Nutrition has provided a central leadership role in growing farm to school efforts through coordinating the Montana Farm to School Leadership Team, leading the development of the Montana Harvest of the Month program, providing training and guidance for individuals throughout the state and supporting the Montana Beef to School Coalition. The Montana Beef to School Project, a three-year collaborative project between several Montana beef producers and processors, schools and stakeholders represented in the Montana Beef to School Coalition, explores how to make beef to school programs successful and encourages the use of local beef in every Montana school, according to the website.
The National Farm to School Network has selected Core Partner and Supporting Partner organizations in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and U.S. territories to collaborate on efforts to strengthen the farm to school and ECE movements nationwide and ensure its benefits are available to all children. These partners will support the development of new information and resources, grow awareness of the movement and its benefits, advocate for supportive policies and provide vision for the growth and evolution of the farm to school and ECE movements.
To learn more about Montana’s partnership with the National Farm to School Network, visit http://www.farmtoschool.org/our-network. To learn more about farm to school efforts in Montana visit www.montana.edu/mtfarmtoschool.
Contact: Aubree Roth, MSU Montana Team Nutrition Program, (406) 994-5996 or firstname.lastname@example.org