Montana Harvest of the Month

The Montana Harvest of the Month team has been busy creating exciting new resources! Montana Harvest of the Month (HOM) showcases Montana grown foods in Montana communities. Each month, participating sites focus on

Harvest of the Month logo

promoting one locally grown item (e.g., winter squash) by serving it in at least one meal or snack, and displaying or distributing HOM materials. 


Here are some exciting updates from HOM:

  • Five videos featuring kale, grains, lentils, chickpeas, and apples are currently available for you to enjoy! These short farm to plate videos are available to the public and are a great way to promote the delicious HOM foods in classrooms, cafeterias, announcements, and to a broader audience online. To find these videos, check out the HOM YouTube channel at: Stay tuned for more videos to be released throughout the year.
  • HOM is thrilled to announce the production of their new cookbook! The, soon to be released, cookbook will introduce nutritious HOM recipes for making home-sized meals. Cookbooks will be available electronically for participating sites with a limited print run.
  • To keep the program fresh and exciting, the HOM calendar has changed this year and now features cherries and chokecherries—yum!


Registered HOM sites receive all of these materials and more for free! 

Learn more and register


Montana Cook Fresh Training Initiative

Are you interested in cooking more meals from scratch, expanding variety in school menus, serving more local and fresh foods, or sharpening food service staff’s culinary skills? If so, contact Montana Team Nutrition about:

  • Scheduling on-site training workshops for your staff
  • Attending the 2020 Montana Cook Fresh Leadership Institute set for July 27-31, 2020
  • Requesting peer mentoring from a regional Montana School Food Service Peer Trainer

For more information, contact Katie Bark at 406-994-5641, or [email protected] or

MCT attendees and instructors 2019 MCF Summer Institute attendees

Smarter Breakfast Boosts Brainpower Scorecard

Looking to enhance your school breakfast program? The Smarter Breakfast Scorecard is a simple tool to encourage students to select and eat a nutritious breakfast that helps jumpstart their day. The scorecard guides schools through 26 strategies to nudge students to make healthy food choices. Simple and inexpensive cafeteria modifications can

Smarter Lunchrooms Movement logo

significantly influence the breakfast choices that kids make. When students begin their day with a wholesome, nutritious meal, they are more likely to attend school, actively participate in class, and learn and behave better.

Tips for creating a smarter breakfast environment:

  • Offer breakfast as part of the school day in expanded locations such as: breakfast in the classroom, grab and go, or breakfast after 1st period.
  • Offer fresh fruit in an eye-appealing basket or bowl.
  • Make food FUN with color variety and labeling food items with silly, creative names.
  • Offer one or more “made from scratch” item(s) per week.
  • Ask students for their feedback and invite parents and staff to breakfast to gain buy in for your program.

Four Montana schools tested the Smarter Breakfast Scorecard and the results were positive! Overall, schools that applied strategies from the Scorecard to their breakfast program reported an increased student selection of white milk, and whole fruit rather than juice. Thank you to the pilot schools that used the Smarter Breakfasts Scorecard!

Using the Smarter Breakfast Scorecard is easy! For more information, visit Montana Team Nutrition Smarter Lunchrooms or contact Molly Stenberg at 406-994-7217 or [email protected].

Looking for more ideas? Check out this recently posted School Breakfast webinar!


The Relationship Between Food and Mood

by Montana No Kid Hungry

brain food

Back to School season can be a stressful time for adults and students alike, but luckily more focus is being put on mental health across diverse sectors of education, healthcare and business in Montana. Kids are often at the forefront of this focus. According to the World Health Organization, half of all mental illnesses, like depression, begin by age 14 and three-quarters by age 25. In Montana, the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that teens’ reports of frequently feeling sad or hopeless have increased every year since 2009.

In addition to traditional treatment and prevention of mental health issues, food can play a huge role in helping kids (and adults) reduce their risk of feeling depressed, anxious, or overly stressed. A host of new research studies are contributing to the emerging field of Nutritional Psychiatry, which explains how what you eat has a direct impact on brain function and mood. Diets high in sugar and processed/packaged foods lack essential nutrients and contribute to increased inflammation in the body, which studies have linked to higher risk of depression. On the other hand, when people eat a diet of primarily whole foods like vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish (with modest amounts of lean meats and dairy), risk of depression can decrease by as much as 35%.

Armed with this new knowledge, Montana School Nutrition Programs and Wellness Committees have the opportunity to serve students healthy meals that promote mental clarity, emotional resiliency, and a sense of fulfillment for a lifetime.