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Farm to Summer Week: MN Kids Enjoy Locally Grown Food

The Minnesota Department of Education and USDA are partnering to offer local meals this week. (Courtesy of Sarah Brouwer)
The Minnesota Department of Education and USDA are partnering to offer local meals this week. (Courtesy of Sarah Brouwer)
July 15, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. – It's Farm to Summer Week, and children throughout Minnesota are eating locally grown foods to celebrate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program offers free meals to children under 18 while school is out. Those meals are important.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, more than 40% of students in the state receive free or reduced price lunch meals during the school year.

Katie Costello, an associate with the community food systems program for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, says children rely on those meals for the majority of their calories.

"When school's not in session, a lot of kids are at risk of going hungry,” she points out. “So what we're trying to do is take advantage of the summer growing season here in Minnesota by incorporating items grown by local farmers in those summer food service meals."

The Minnesota Department of Education is working with the USDA to offer locally sourced food items.

On Thursday, meal sites will be hosting the “Cucumber Crunch” to celebrate locally grown cucumbers. That day also is Minnesota Thursday, where the menu will be entirely local.

Costello says Farm to Summer Week also is a time when meal sites, especially schools, can engage children about farming and nutrition.

"Especially during Farm to Summer Week, schools will take advantage of that opportunity to educate kids on, you know, 'Hey, this is the farmer that grew the cucumbers that you're seeing in your meal this week,'" she relates.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy is teaming with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Roseville Area Schools to celebrate Farm to Summer Week.

Disclosure: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment, Health Issues, Rural/Farming. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MN