The new school year is here, and I am busier than ever!
Usually, August is a chance to wrap up some loose ends, finish some reporting and maybe squeeze in a few more fundays with the kids. But I find myself very busy these days with school food orders this year. “Odd,” I thought to myself. “I don’t remember it being this busy last year.”
I was right. It was not this busy last year. My notes from last fall are proof.
Since we have started doing farm to school over six years ago, the Farm to School activity doesn’t really start to gear-up until mid-September — for a number of reasons.
- Traditionally that third week was our Homegrown School lunch week.
- The craziness of the beginning of the year was over and everyone had a few weeks of school under their belts.
- The FFI Resource Contacts were hitting the ground running after staring their year of service after Sept. 1.
Last year, we transitioned away from Homegrown School Lunch Week in favor of supporting schools for a month of activity during National Farm to School Month in October.
(It was a great month! The Iowa Food Hub was able to deliver over 8000 lbs of local food to schools that month. That doesn’t include all the other farmer-direct sales and harvests from school gardens.)
Then it dawned on me.
This is the first year, we’ve helped schools source local food from the first day of the school year. It may not seem like a big deal, but if four weeks means another 8000 lbs of local food – let’s do this!
Four weeks early has presented its own set of challenges, however. For example, we’ve had to find different vendors for some of the crops, simply because it is a little too early for the crops at some of the regular vendors. Take apples, for example. Apples from Peake’s Orchard and Swanson’s Orchard are favorites at some of the schools. Those apples still need another month on the tree. The local grapes and pears are also not quite ready.
The good news is that the cantaloupe, watermelon and sweet corn is ready to go! 150 dozen ears are on their way to Decorah for lunch!
Here are some other products students can expect to see on lunch trays in August: apples, cantaloupe, baby potatoes, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, ground pork, yogurt and frozen strawberries!
It is going to be a great year!