IDEA Celebrates National Farm to School Month
October is national Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate the connections happening all over the country between children and local food! To celebrate, IDEA campuses are hosting Fall Festivals featuring locally grown veggies from our campus farms.
IDEA farmers and students have been working hard all summer to make sure that our fall crops are ready to harvest. Pumpkin is just one of the fall crops grown on our local IDEA campus farms. They’re a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Other crops harvested will include cucumbers and squash. All produce will be shared with school cafeterias for extra healthy and hearty dishes this month.
With five farms throughout the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio, IDEA employs eight farmers who each farm approximately 3,400 pounds of produce for cafeterias (16,000 pounds total) while teaching 4th to 8th grade students about plant physiology, nutrition, soil science, and food systems.
Campus farm programs work to improve children’s health by providing education on healthy eating, getting scholars to try new and nutritious foods, and making sure that our cafeterias are getting the freshest veggies possible. Bringing farming closer to our schools is just one way we’re working to improve health across the district.
Hernan Colmenero, Child Nutrition Program Farm Manager at IDEA Public Schools, says campus farms are a great way for students to learn about food, sustainability and nutrition.
“We are trying to change food culture in our campuses and communities,” he says. “We teach students about science and agriculture in the short-term, but we also want them to think twice about where their food comes from, how it is grown, and why proper nutrition is essential to staying healthy for life. We want our farm programs to have lasting effects in the community.”
According to the National Farm to School network, the number of Farm to School programs in the United States has rapidly increased in number, from fewer than ten in 1997 to an estimated 12,500 programs in 2012. The positive impacts of Farm to School programs on various sectors have also been documented over the years.
Schools with Farm to School programs participate in activities such as featuring farm-fresh foods on their menus; incorporating a nutrition and agriculture-based curriculum; and providing students experiential learning opportunities through campus farms, taste-tests, composting and more.
IDEA’s Farm to School Month activities will engage students, parents and the community in a range of activities ranging from campus farmer’s markets to beautification projects and planting new trees and crops.