Willow Springs Elementary School celebrated Farm-to-School Month last month in several ways. Students from the spring after-school garden club planted Swiss chard and other vegetables; volunteers—including family members—tended the garden all summer and kept the plants alive. This fall, garden club participants and fourth and fifth grade students harvested the Swiss chard and learned how to prepare delicious salad and soup with it. The students created small sample cups so their classmates could get a taste of a healthy treat.
During sixth grade lunch, students lined up across the cafeteria for samples. They even came up for second and third helpings, until supplies ran out. There were many requests for fresh, local, healthy food tastings on upcoming Fridays. These efforts were led by farm-to-school champion and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) teacher Carley Fisher-Maltese. Over the past decade, the farm-to-school movement has exploded across the United States, reaching millions of students in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. From school gardens and farm field trips to local food on cafeteria trays, farm-to-school practices help children learn where food comes from and to make healthier choices while also creating new markets for local and regional farmers.