A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

KDA connects farmers to Kentucky schools in October, holds high school culinary competition

School districts throughout Kentucky will hold special events to celebrate Farm to School Month in October and raise awareness of the advantages of serving local foods to Kentucky school children.

“Farm to school helps Kentucky students get access to fresh, nutritious local foods that will help them to grow up strong and healthy,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “At the same time, farm to school enables farmers to tap into a local market for their products.

“The Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program is committed to getting fresh, high-quality Kentucky Proud foods into our school systems. Our program is a national leader in the farm to school movement.”

Among the Farm to School Month celebrations in Kentucky this month:

• Grant County’s middle and high schools are roasting pumpkins as a side dish and toasting pumpkin seeds for their salad bars. The elementary schools will roast pumpkins as their Try Day Friday special on Oct. 18. The elementary schools also will offer Farm to School Month coloring contests.

• Barren County’s FFA chapter, culinary arts students, staff, and farmers’ market will host a community local hog roast on Oct. 10. Barren County Schools will serve all-local lunches on Oct. 24. Red Cross Elementary will hold a Farm to School event on Oct. 17.

• The Wayne County school district is serving local lunches in all schools. Students grew a garden at Wayne County High School that produced 85 percent of the food for the entire district.

During the week of Oct. 14-18, Sandersville Elementary School in Fayette County will feature entrées on their lunch menu each day that is made using local ingredients and side salads with lettuce and apples from Reed Valley Orchard in Paris. Rosa Parks Elementary, also in Fayette County, will serve local foods daily the week of Oct. 28.

Many other Kentucky schools will host events to celebrate Farm to School Month in October. If you would like your school’s event to be recognized, contact the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) at ag.web@ky.gov or share on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and tag @kentuckyag.

The KDA’s Farm to School Program helps Kentucky school systems locate local foods to buy and serve to their students. The program runs the Junior Chef program, a statewide competition of high school culinary teams. Each “season” concludes with the state tournament in August at the Kentucky State Fair, where regional champions compete for scholarship opportunities and the coveted skillet trophy.

For the last two years, Kentucky has hosted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Southeast Region Junior Chef Competition in Louisville.

During Farm to School Month, the USDA will conduct a Farm to School Census in all 50 states, four territories, and Washington, D.C. USDA periodically conducts a Farm to School Census to measure activities and trends in the farm to school movement.

The KDA encourages local school food authorities to complete the census so Kentucky can be well represented. The deadline to complete and submit the census is Nov. 4. For more information, contact your USDA Farm to School Regional Lead or send an email to farmtoschool@fns.usda.gov.

From Kentucky Department of Agriculture

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