For the fifth year in a row, Polson students joined students from around the state to celebrate local food producers Oct. 24 as part of the Montana Crunch Time Event.
The event, which celebrates National Food Day and National Farm to School Month, encourages students and teachers throughout Montana to all take a bite of a locally grown apple at the same time. This year, it was a 2 p.m. on Oct. 24.
“This is a great program that gets students engaged with where their food comes from,” FoodCorps service member and event organizer Mary Auld said. “Research shows that children are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they know where they are coming from.”
The 1,800 apples for this year’s event in Polson came from Campbell’s Orchard on Finley Point, which provided McIntosh apples, as well as a second local distributor, which provided Northwest apples.
The state-wide event is organized by Montana Farm to School. Here in Polson, it is organized by Auld and JB Capedville, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Coordinator. The event is supported by the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
FoodCorps is a national organization that aims to help provide students with healthy food choices while at school. According to their website, more than 30 million kids rely on schools for lunch, and more than 12 million for breakfast. Schools can help shape a child’s relationship with food—and the eating habits they’ll carry for their whole lives. FoodCorps offers a school-based program that helps schools be places where kids have more opportunities to eat healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables and teaches them to love those foods and eat them on a daily basis.
Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools. Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. Farm to school empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities.
According to their website, research shows that students who participate in farm to school programs show an increased willingness to try new fruits and vegetables. Kids that have easy access to a variety of high quality fruits and vegetables eat more of them. By combining increased access to local and fresh fruits and vegetables with farm to school educational activities, children demonstrate healthier nutrition behaviors.
Auld said this year’s event was once again a success, as is has been all six years Polson Schools have participated.
“This is a great program that promotes healthy eating and gets kids to eat foods that they might not otherwise be exposed to,” she said.