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Area schools celebrate National Farm to School MonthPrint

Food & Farming | October 17, 2014 | By MLUI

Lianna Bowman at Interlochen Elementary School.
MLUI FoodCorps Service Member Lianna Bowman at Interlochen Elementary School. 

TRAVERSE CITY— Schools throughout northwest Lower Michigan are cooking up locally grown food for lunch this October as part of National Farm to School Month.

In 2010, the United States House of Representatives declared October National Farm to School Month to recognize the strong role farm to school efforts play in promoting good health and strong economies. Over the past decade, the movement has exploded across the United States, reaching millions of students in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. From school gardens and farm field trips, to local food on cafeteria trays, farm to school practices help children connect with their food and make healthier choices while also creating new markets for local and regional farmers.

“By instilling healthy eating habits early in life, we’re preventing a health crisis and saving on health care spending along the way,” says Anupama Joshi, executive director of the National Farm to School Network. “There are other economic benefits as well. Buying direct from local farmers keeps 80-90 percent of each dollar in the farmers’ pocket, meaning more money stays in your community.”

“In 2014, we’re celebrating 10 years of farm to school programs in northwest Michigan. National Farm to School Month is providing area schools with the perfect opportunity to showcase their efforts to feature locally grown foods in school cafeterias and to teach students about healthy eating habits,” said Diane Conners, who directs farm to school programming at the Michigan Land Use Institute.


Press opportunities, highlighted below, include classroom activities, food tastings, field trips to farms, school garden activities, and a state-wide Apple Crunch.

Please note: All media should call the contact person listed in the events as well as the school office to let school officials know that they are planning to come to their school building to cover an activity.

Farm to School Education Team, including FoodCorps

More information: Diane Conners, 231-499-3937 or diane@mlui.org.

Hard-working food service directors and school kitchen staff are serving more and more local food—and a team of farm to school educators is working hard to get kids excited about eating this healthy food. Currently in its fourth year, FoodCorps is a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food and helps them grow up healthy. Two FoodCorps Service Members are working right here in northwest Lower Michigan in four area school districts across four counties.

FoodCorps Service Member Meghan McDermott is helping schools feature more locally grown foods in the cafeteria and the classroom. Service Member Lianna Bowman is leading school garden efforts and assisting in nutrition education. The nonprofit Michigan Land Use Institute, in collaboration with the MSU Extension Community Food Systems Work Group, is the service site for FoodCorps in northwest Michigan. Thanks to a National Farm to School Grant, MLUI expanded its farm to school education team by hiring two additional people to work with its FoodCorps educators. They are Pam Bardenhagen, a former teacher and, until recently, the leader of the region’s MSU master gardener program; and Michele Worden, a master gardener with extensive experience in farm to school programs.

Farm to School Events

Throughout the month of October many area schools will be infusing farm-fresh food into their menus district-wide. Following is contact information for food service directors: Traverse City Area Public Schools, Tom Freitas, 231-933-1911; Frankfort-Elberta Area Public Schools, Eric Chorley, 231-352-4641 ext. 227; Northport Public Schools, Janis Groomes, 231-386-5153; Glen Lake Public Schools, Sam Hybels, 231-334-3061 ext. 503; Leland Public Schools, Dave Ruszel, 231-256-9857. Central Lake Public Schools, Deb Wolgamott, 231-544-5221 ext. 206; Benzie Central Schools, Lisa Purchase, 231-882-4497 ext. 2214.

• Friday, Oct. 24 National Food Day/ Michigan Apple Crunch Contact: Kelly Lively, 866.943.5010 Ex. 104

Grand Traverse County

• Tuesday, Oct. 14—Students at Blair Elementary will study fractions and prepare apple sauce in class with farm to school educator Michele Worden. Contact: Michele, 231-313-6638.

• Thursday, Oct. 16, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.—Michele will be leading a series of garden activities at Central Grade School. Contact: Michele, 231-313-6638.

• Friday, Oct. 17, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.—Lianna will be preparing a fresh applesauce from local apples with first- and second-grade students at Interlochen Elementary. Contact: Lianna, 616-648-3007.

• Wednesday, Oct. 22, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.—FoodCorps service members Meghan and Lianna will be leading activities on nutrition and gardening at Traverse Heights Elementary. Contact: Meghan, 773-294-9650.

• Wednesday, Oct. 22, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.—FoodCorps service members Meghan and Lianna will be promoting Traverse City Food Day at Traverse Heights Elementary. All TCAPS buildings will feature a 100% local meal on this day. Contact: Food Service Director Tom Freitas, 231-933-1911

• Thursday, Oct. 23—Michele will be leading a lesson on fractions and preparing applesauce from local apples with students at Central Grade Elementary. Contact: Michele, 231-313-6638.

• Friday, Oct. 24—Students at Blair Elementary will celebrate Michigan Apple Crunch Day. Contact: Michele, 231-313-6638.

• Friday, Oct. 24—Students at Central Grade Elementary will celebrate Michigan Apple Crunch Day. Contact: Michele, 231-313-6638.

• Tuesday, Oct. 28—Michele will lead garden and nutrition-based activities at Blair Elementary. Contact: Michele, 231-313-6638.

Antrim County

The 15th annual Farmer to Community Fundraiser kicked off on Oct. 3, and will continue through the month. Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students at Central Lake Elementary will raise funds for spring field trips by selling products from local farms. Contact: Pepper Bromelmeier, NRCS, pepper.bromelmeier@mi.usda.gov.

• Friday, Oct. 17, 9a.m.-11 a.m—Meghan will lead a lesson on Michigan agriculture with fourth- and fifth-graders at Central Lake Elementary. Contact: Meghan, 773-294-9650.

• Friday, Oct. 24—Students at Central Lake Elementary will celebrate Michigan Apple Crunch Day. Contact: Meghan, 773-294-9650.

• Friday, Oct. 31—Meghan will lead third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in a “Healthy Halloween” snack making activity at Central Lake Elementary. Contact: Meghan, 773-294-9650.

Leelanau County

• Week of Oct. 13—School garden fall cleanup at Northport Public Schools. Contact: Pam, 231-883-6397.

• Tuesday, Oct. 14—Second- and third-grade students at Leland Elementary School will visit Friske Orchards. Contact: Pam, 231-883-6397.

• Thursday, Oct. 23—Fifth- and sixth-graders at Leland Elementary will embark on a field trip to Bakker’s Acres farm in Leelanau County. Contact: Pam, 231-883-6397.

• Friday, Oct. 24—Students at Northport Elementary will celebrate Michigan Apple Crunch Day by assembling all K-12 students in one place (gymnasium) and biting into apples in unison. Contact: Janis Groomes, 231-386-5153.

• Friday, Oct. 24—Students at Leland Elementary will celebrate Michigan Apple Crunch Day by assembling all K-12 students in one place (gymnasium) and biting into apples in unison. Contact: Laura Miller, 231-256-9857.

• Additional Leelanau County events are planned starting next week, with details pending. Contact: Pam, 231-883-6397.

Benzie County

• Wednesday, Oct. 15, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.—FoodCorps service members Meghan and Lianna will lead lessons on nutrient cycles and conduct lab activities with a worm bin (vermicomposting) with students in kindergarten and third grade at Platte River Elementary. Contact: Meghan, 773-294-9650.

• Thursday, Oct. 16, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.—Lianna will conduct a cafeteria taste test of local apples at Betsie Valley Elementary. Contact: Lianna, 616-648-3007.

• Monday, Oct. 20, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.—Lianna will lead lessons on vermicomposting with worm bins donated by the Carter’s Compost “Worms to Classrooms” program at Lake Ann Elementary. Contact: Lianna, 616-648-3007.

• Friday, Oct. 24—Lianna will lead second-, third-, and fifth-grade students at Betsie Valley Elementary in an apple preference survey. Students will taste several varieties of local apples in their classrooms. Contact: Lianna, 616-648-3007.

• Friday, Oct. 24—Students at Frankfort Elementary will celebrate Michigan Apple Crunch Day. Contact: Meghan, 773-294-9650.

• Tuesday, Oct. 28—Lianna will conduct a cafeteria taste test of local apples at Lake Ann Elementary. Contact: Lianna, 616-648-3007.

• Wednesday, Oct. 29—Meghan and Lianna will lead garden and nutrition-based activities at Platte River Elementary. Contact: Meghan, 773-294-9650.