Getting your kids to eat their fruits and vegetables can be a challenge, especially in the school cafeteria where you’re not there to supervise what they eat. The classroom program Harvest of the Month, which can be easily replicated at home, is helping to get kids excited about eating healthy, local foods.
Harvest of the Month integrates local produce into your child’s classroom or cafeteria, or even at home. Each month, a different fruit or vegetable is featured through lessons in the classroom, recipe demonstrations, taste testings in the cafeteria, and featured cafeteria meals or side dishes.
“Kids like to try things in the cafeteria that they’ve grown or cooked themselves, or if they get to meet the farmer who grew it,” says Diane Conners, senior policy specialist at the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, which launched farm to school programs in the region about 10 years ago. “In the very first school we worked with, the principal announced that at recess students would get to meet the farmer who grew the potatoes that were being served in the hot entree, the potato bar, that day. Twice as many kids as usual chose the hot entree over pizza that day!”
The program is part of a larger Farm to School movement that includes the efforts of Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBAISD), and is focused on bringing food into schools through cooking demonstrations, nutrition lessons, garden plots, farm field trips, and more.
The hands-on approach offers a fun, holistic experience and can have a large impact on how kids make decisions about food.
“The Harvest of the Month program gives food service staff, teachers, parents, and students an exciting resource for connecting to classroom learning through a featured local and seasonal produce ingredient,” says Hannah Fernando, the Farm to School curriculum coordinator at TBAISD. “The program is easy and simple to utilize, while offering an interdisciplinary tool to encourage experiential learning in and out of the classroom.”
March’s lesson plan is all about frozen fruit. Try the recipe below at home with your kids, and learn how to freeze your own fresh fruit! You can find all of the Harvest of the Month lesson plans and recipes online through TBAISD at http://farmtoschool.tbaisd.org/harvest-of-the-month/.
Berrylicious Smoothie Recipe
Prep time: 2 min
Cook time: 0 minutes
Estimated Cost: $3
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
- 1/2 banana, sliced
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- Combine orange juice and yogurt in a blender. Add banana, strawberries and blueberries.
- Blend until smooth, 30-45 seconds.
Tip: For a colder smoothie, you can use frozen fruit. Try this basic recipe with any fruits you like. Local fruits include blueberries, strawberries, cherries, apples, peaches, and more. You can even add greens such as spinach or kale to increase the health factor!
Fruit Freezing Tips
Buy fresh fruit in season and freeze it to use in smoothies or desserts later in the year. Rinse fresh fruit, remove pits (if necessary), and place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Freeze for one to two hours, then remove and place in a freezer-proof bag to use as needed. You can find local fruits and vegetables at http://www.localdifference.org/.
Past freezing time? Goodwill of Northwest Michigan’s Farm to Freezer program flash freezes produce from local farms in Northern Michigan so you can enjoy them all year long! View their current product line (http://www.goodwillnmi.org/food-2/farm-to-freezer/farm-to-freezer-products/).
By Carly Simpson, MyNorth Media