Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems Workgroup Farm to School Resources

By Kendra Wills, Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems Educator

Unique farm-to-school projects are the focus of this collection of articles from the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Community Food Systems Workgroup. Originally published on the MSU Extension web site, these articles highlight some successful and replicable farm-to-school projects. Each article provides links to contacts and relevant resources so readers can connect with people working on farm-to-school projects on a day-to-day basis. This collection, written for the general public, gives readers real-world examples of projects they can implement in their own communities and schools.

Michigan State University Community Food Systems Educators work closely with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems to provide resources and expertise to support local food sourcing in K-12 schools. The Michigan Good Food Charter, which outlines an action plan for Michigan institutions to achieve 20% locally sourced food by the year 2020, is used to guide the programming of the Workgroup.

Michigan’s Farm-to-School Program web site at http://www.mifarmtoschool.msu.edu also has several useful materials, including: a local food purchasing guide, a marketing guide for farmers/food producers, recipes, and links to local food purchasing rules and regulations.


Farm-to-Pizza Lesson Plan for Elementary Students

Author: Kendra Wills, Michigan State University Extension

Farm-to-Pizza is an original lesson plan developed by a MSU Extension Community Food Systems educator to provide a tool for educators to teach students about local agriculture, while introducing youth to healthy foods. The package includes: a PDF of the lesson plan, a companion PowerPoint presentation, and a handout for students to take home to their families. The lesson plan is available for free to the public online. It includes instructions to teach students how to cut a variety of fruits and vegetables to make English muffin pizzas.


Eaton Rapids Student Grow Food for the Lunch Line

Author: Becky Henne, Michigan State University Extension

This article gives an overview of a 2013 project coordinated by a school food service director, a local food council, two high school teachers, and MSU Extension, to grow herbs, salad greens and tomatoes for school meal programs. Four aeroponic tower gardens and two raised beds were used by high school students to produce these crops. This project was funded by donations, including a contribution from the local county Farm Bureau. A similar project in Olivet High School is cited in this article.



Students Liked Michigan Lamb for Lunch

Author: Kendra Wills, Michigan State University Extension

In April 2013, three school districts in western Michigan served various dishes made from ground Michigan lamb meat sourced from a meat processing company in Detroit and delivered by a large, full-service food distributor. The project was the brainchild of two food service directors, who were interested in providing cultural education to students through a special menu featuring lamb. Food service directors and MSU Extension developed original recipes and information for school menus, which are hyperlinked in this article.



Grand Rapids Adds Michigan Dry Beans to the School Menu

Author: Kendra Wills, Michigan State University Extension

Many schools serve canned beans in their school meal programs. Canned beans can be high in sodium. This may soon be an issue of concern as the National School Lunch Program Nutrition Standards call for sodium reductions starting in July 2014. Grand Rapids Public Schools chooses to cook Michigan dry beans for their bean salads, soups and chili. They have found that this reduces sodium, is a healthier option, and improves the flavor of their dishes. GRPS also believes cooking dry beans saves labor because they don’t have to rinse and recycle metal cans.



Michigan School Districts Welcome Back Students with Michigan Apples, Peaches, and Pears

Author: Kendra Wills, Michigan State University Extension

In the fall of 2013, 114 school districts in Michigan began supplying their school meal programs with local apples, peaches and pears. This was believed to be one of the largest farm-to-school efforts in the country at the time. The project was made possible by a new partnership between a local food distributor (Cherry Capital Foods) and a large school foodservice company (Chartwells). Large crops of apples, peaches and pears in 2013 provided the supply and pricing needed to accomplish this large scale effort.



Michigan Institutions Expand Local Food Purchasing

Author: Terry McLean, Michigan State University Extension

This article summarizes local food purchasing trends in Michigan from 2004 – 2012 based on survey results of school and hospital food service directors. During this period, staff of Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems conducted six statewide surveys to gauge interest in locally sourced institutional food. According to these survey results, the demand for locally sourced food increased over time. Surprisingly, local food was most frequently provided through full-service food distributors rather than direct purchases from farmers.



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