October marks National Farm to School Month. It's a time to celebrate the connections that are happening all over the country between schools and local food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture established the National Farm to School Program in 2000, and now supports participating schools with research, training, technical assistance and grants. Pine River-Backus has been building these connections, working with community gardens, the school garden, farmers markets and local growers since early in the Farm to School movement.
After serving 135,500 meals, 6,500 after school snacks, many coffee carts and lots of a la carte sandwiches through March 31, you might think the school’s Food Service Department is beginning to wind down. Actually, ordering next year’s groceries has already begun and we are working on our summer feeding program. Dates for the Pine River-Backus Summer Feeding Program are Aug. 4-22. Breakfast will be served from 8-9 a.m., and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP), founded in 1946 under President Harry Truman to bring low-cost or free meals to qualified students, has since grown to be the second largest food and nutrition assistance program in the United States. Approximately 30.5 million children are served on an average day. As we look through the history of NSLP it has continued to change and grow. It has become much more than lunch. NSLP includes breakfast, fresh fruit and vegetable programs, summer feeding programs, after school snacks and meal programs.
There’s a lot that’s been “cooking” in the Pine River-Backus School kitchen in the past few months! The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act has required that all school food service operations re-evaluate their menus and make changes. As part of the process, we did calorie counting, checked to ensure we had met our vegetable sub-group requirements and shopped for whole grain products.