Farm to School
In partnership with the local nonprofit Garden City Harvest, MCPS has been a leader in Farm to School efforts for many years. As Garden City Harvest explains:
"Farm to School educations Missoula's youth through educational farm field trips, in-class sessions, structured school garden programming, summer camps, and classes on cooking, gardening, and farming. We connect Missoulians to their food and the place it is grown. Taking a hands-on, farm-based approach, our Farm to School program encourages youth and adults to explore connections between food, agriculture, science, and their everyday lives. We offer place-based education programs at the PEAS Farm, in 7 school gardens, and in MCPS classrooms. The Farm to School program is a partnership with the Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) and Montana FoodCorps." (Garden City Harvest, 2015)
MCPS and Garden City Harvest have hosted a FoodCorps service member for many years. For the 2014-2015 school year, Amy Harvey is serving in Missoula to connect students to real food and help them make healthy choices. FoodCorps service members focus on three areas of service:
- Knowledge: food and nutrition education that gives students information they need to make smart choices
- Engagement: hands-on activities such as gardening and cooking that foster skills and pride around healthy food
- Access: lunch trays filled with nutritious meals from local farms
The MCPS Central Kitchen recently added 16 production garden beds that are used to grow produce on site that is directly used in the menus, salad bar and special events meals. Last year over 100 lbs. of kale was grown at the Central Kitchen Production Garden and used for kale chips in K-8 salad bars on National Kale Day, October 1st. To volunteer at the garden, click here.
MCPS Food and Nutrition Services is beginning to participate in a statewide Montana Harvest of the Month (HOM) pilot program that is intended to showcase healthy, Montana-grown foods on a monthly basis in schools through posters, education and outreach materials, activities and recipes. HOM programs have been successful in many states nationwide. These programs connect food service, teachers, administration, parents, and students to create a healthier school environment. Project partners include - Office of Public Instruction, Montana Team Nutrition Program, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and FoodCorps Montana - and stay tuned for expansions of the pilot program coming in 2016!
For more information about national efforts, check out the USDA Farm to School website.
Garden City Harvest Sponsored School Gardens:
- Chief Charlo School Garden, established 2012
- Franklin School Garden, established 2013
- Hawthorne Outdoor Learning Center, established 2014
- Lowell Outdoor Learning Center, established 2009
- Meadow Hill Community Garden and Classroom, established 2003
- Paxson Outdoor Learning Center, established 2011
- Rattlesnake School Garden, established 2015
- Willard School Garden, established 2008
working hard for students!