Monroe County Schools on the GO is building a coalition of farmers, parents and community members who want to develop a strong farm to school effort in the Tomah, Sparta and Norwalk-Ontario-Wilton school districts.
With the help of a Transform Wisconsin Food Systems Impact Grant, the group is working to improve nutrition practices and increase fruit and vegetable consumption for Monroe County children. This coalition will work to strengthen our local food system and increase the availability of healthy and affordable food for residents in our communities.
The receipt of the two-year Transform Wisconsin grant instilled cooperation between the school nutrition programs of the three school districts and led them to begin looking at best practices for beginning farm to school programs. Teaming up to learn proper procurement, preparation and serving has proved invaluable.
As childhood obesity becomes an epidemic, the coalition believes providing access and information to healthy eating options becomes crucial. The school districts are fortunate to have salad bars in many of their lunch rooms that serve as instant teaching tools but look forward to the near future when a farmer is able to attend lunch and say the food served that day came from just a few miles away.
Programs to be implemented in the three school districts include school gardens, advocacy and education.
School gardens will serve as farm to school classrooms where students can get hands-on opportunities to grow produce that will be served on the school lunch lines or used for tastings. They also will be able to volunteer with their family and friends planting, watering and harvesting vegetables that will include cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and beans. Through the help of the coalition, community volunteers and experts will aid in the establishment and management of the school gardens while educating and working alongside students and teachers.
Through growing interest in farm to school efforts in the three school districts, information will be shared with family and friends. This will generate an interest in local foods and promote healthy eating practices that can last a lifetime. When children are interested in fruits and vegetables, it becomes difficult to not serve them at home.
By teaming with local farmers and experts, Monroe County Schools on the GO will offer educational outreach activities to promote healthy choices. The group will tap coalition members to lead training sessions that will benefit the greater community on a variety of topics that could include growing produce, canning and preparing fresh fruits and vegetables.
Those interested in getting involved should contact Project Coordinator Autumn Grooms at (608) 269-3151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. There are opportunities with school gardens, advisory committees, planning and more.
This blog will serve as an information page where our progress is updated and news updates are provided.