Written By: Alanna McCoy
October is recognized as Farm to School Month, an opportunity to celebrate the connections and partnerships between students, schools, local food, and farms. Everyday, Farm to School programs across the country are supporting local agriculture, increasing the amount of nutrient rich meals served at schools, and empowering children and families to make healthier food choices.
On September 28, 2022 the White House recognized and addressed the critical role that school food plays in improving the health and nutrition of students in its Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Pillar 3 includes a focus on increasing access to local foods to improve the food environment and connect people to healthy options, including at school. As described in the Strategy, the USDA will continue their work to “strengthen and diversify the suppliers that provide healthy, nutritious, and local foods to schools.” Common Threads is excited to champion this Pillar of the White House’s Strategy (among others) and celebrate Farm to School month!
Common Threads was awarded a USDA Farm to School Grant in 2020 and is a proud Farm to School program partner. Our Farm to School project is focused in Chicago, where we are working to refine a farmer-informed local sourcing system for our organization that highlights produce grown in the communities we serve. A few examples of our current farm partnerships partners include The Farm on Ogden, Cedillos Fresh Produce, and Just Roots Chicago, with which we are working to bring unique programming to schools in North Lawndale and surrounding neighborhoods.
In Farm to School Small Bites Workshops, students 3-5 engage in interactive nutrition education, learning about seasonal fruits and veggies and working together to prepare a healthy, locally grown snack. In Farm to School Cooking Skills classes, students learn how to roast, bake, saute, and use knives properly as they prepare healthy meals alongside a professional chef, using local ingredients from Chicago-based urban farms. To date, students have had the opportunity to prepare meals like Loaded Farmer’s Baked Potato with Garlicky String Beans and Minestrone Soup with Herb Crostini.
This year, Common Threads is honored to have the generous support of Builders Initiative in addition to the USDA, which is allowing us to expand programming and provide more students with Farm to School education experiences. Further, this support is allowing us to build our capacity to meaningfully engage farmers and other food system leaders in designing a local sourcing system for our organization that benefits all stakeholders, including urban farms, chefs instructors, students, and families.
Rooted in our belief that food is medicine, Common Threads’ programs provide a strong foundation for positive lifelong nutrition and grow well being in our communities. Join us as we celebrate Farm to School month and visit or shop a local farm or produce stand near you. You can find local farms by visiting www.localharvest.org. To support Common Threads and find out more about our Farm to School programs visit. www.commonthreads.org/programs.
ABOUT COMMON THREADS
Common Threads is a national nonprofit that provides children and families cooking and nutrition education to encourage healthy habits that contribute to wellness. We equip under-resourced communities with information to make affordable, nutritious and appealing food choices wherever they live, work, learn, and play.