First lady Teresa Little and state agriculture officials visited the Notus School cafeteria Oct. 2 to kick off Idaho Farm to School Month.
October activities at state and national levels highlight connections among local farms, foods, schools and students.
“Farm to School is a great program for Idaho’s producers, our communities and our students,” Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould said in a news release. “This program creates important opportunities to show students where their food is coming from, and it brings agriculture into classrooms and cafeterias.”
Participation has increased consistently since Idaho started its Farm to School program more than 10 years ago, Megan Harper of ISDA’s Idaho Preferred program said in an interview. Notus and the large Boise School District are among longtime participants.
USDA’s Farm to School Census showed more than $4.3 million is invested into local foods in Idaho and 78% of the state’s schools serve local milk.
Farm to School is getting locally grown foods into Idaho school cafeterias and “connecting students back to agriculture in urban areas,” Harper said. “The earlier you introduce kids to local fresh produce, the more likely they are to shop for produce in the grocery store in the future.”
The Notus event featured bread incorporating Idaho potato flakes, an example of a trend toward schools seeking innovative ways to incorporate local foods into menus, she said. Idaho producers also supplied milk, cheese, carrots and table grapes, as well as tomatoes and onions for salsa.
ISDA said Idaho Farm to School month features local and in-season foods at schools, weekly themes, and online tours of dairies through videoconferencing in classrooms.
Dairy West, Idaho Agriculture in the Classroom, University of Idaho Extension and the state Department of Education participate in addition to ISDA and its Idaho Preferred program, which identifies and promotes local foods.