Farm to School

Harvest of the Month Program

For the first three years

F2S in Wood County we followed a typical Harvest of the Month schedule (California style) where one local product is featured each month.  The idea was to trial the local product as a taste test in the school cafeteria and to serve it in the school lunch line after that.  Promotional signs were designed by county F2S staff for cafeteria use that featured both product and farmer each month. link Harvest of the Month newsletters were sent home to all elementary families during years 2 and 3. link

Barriers to this approach:

1.     Hard to coordinate schedule for 6 districts each month.

2.     Originally sourced local products from farmers that ran CSA farms and sold at local Farmers’ Markets.  Although product was popular with students, the prices were too high for food service to purchase and serve again in the lunch line.  Learned to source from wholesale local food farmers, aggregators and prime vendors.

3.     This approached worked well for products that schools already ordered in whole form like potatoes and apples.  In this case they just swapped out the far away product for the local product.  Products that took light processing like peeling carrots or shredding cabbage proved more difficult and pointed to the need to provide lightly processed product (open and serve) to schools. link

Successes with this approach:

1.     Both students and food service were encouraged to try products they hadn’t tried before.  Food Service also got used to logistics of ordering local foods.

2.     Since we had grant money to purchase product for two years, food service was able to experiment a bit with different products they weren’t sure would go over with students.

3.     We were able to experiment at the county level with lightly processed product for three years. 

In the fourth year of Farm to School we switched (per food service directors’ request) to a calendar that allowed them to choose any local product in any month it was available.  This lead to more local product purchased but also left some months in the mid winter and late spring where no local products were purchased in some districts.  Harvest of the Month newsletters were sent home on a quarterly basis to Elementary families. 

Using the Harvest of the Month program was a very successful promotional and procurement tool for Wood County F2S.  Click HERE for more information.