FoodCorps service member
Happy National Farm to School Month! What is that, you ask? October is a time when schools all over the United States support their local growers and producers in every way they can. Congress first put this into action in 2010, when it saw the need to support local economies and bring fresh, healthy foods to kids around the country.
Oregon has been a leader in the Farm to School (F2S) movement for quite some time. Of course, this is easier in some areas of Oregon than others. The Willamette Valley’s high precipitation and late frosts make access to local foods a given. Moving east of the Cascades, we certainly face some challenges finding fresh local foods in large enough quantities to serve the masses. Fret not! Even here in the high desert of Lake County, we too can support Oregon agriculture and move toward bringing better quality foods to all people in our county.
Here is how you can support National Farm to School Month:
Local foods are often fresher because they don’t have to travel in cold storage trucks for long distances. Even at the local grocer, items are marked if they were grown or processed in the Northwest.
Visit your farmer’s market — and SELL there, too
Talk about local! This is a great opportunity to see who grows what here in Lake County. Although Lakeview’s Saturday Market’s season has ended, it’s never a bad time to look into this extra source of revenue and community support for next year. With 54 percent of Lake County residents saying that they grow produce at home, we can certainly have more of us selling these products. Let’s change that together.
Cook with seasonal products
Like local produce, fruits and vegetables that are in season are always fresher. They will have better flavor, fewer pesticides, and greater nutrition. When items are out of season, choose the frozen versions. These are frozen at their peak, keeping their quality even into the winter months. Not sure what’s in season? Check out Oregon Department of Agriculture’s seasonal calendar for Oregon produce.
Volunteer at schools to support F2S work
All year long, Outback Strong is supporting cooking, nutrition, and garden education through the FoodCorps program. Interested in showing first graders your green thumb in our school gardens? Or teaching third graders how to cook your favorite family recipe? Maybe you’d just love to learn more yourself and support this program in any way you can. Green, black, and every colored thumb — and even those who are proud of unburnt toast — are welcome. Please reach out to Fremont/A.D. Hay/Union School Principal Susan Warner or to me.
Encourage kids to try new foods
Have an overflowing garden? Donate items to support cafeteria taste tests, which are allowing countless students to try fresh foods grown from the very soil they live on. This month, the elementary schools are supporting F2S by taste testing new foods once a week. Cafeteria staff try our proposed recipes, and students vote on their favorites. Our goal is to include local, fresh items on the lunch line in years to come. We would love to highlight local producers. So far, we have tried Baked Cauliflower Tots, Roasted Carrots and Parsnips, and Apple and Squash Medley.
Enjoy the rest of October, and continue to go loco for local!