September and October are months of bounty in Massachusetts—the tomatoes are red, the apples are crisp, and the winter squash is plentiful—and schools are taking advantage of that for their Harvest for Students Week celebrations. Harvest for Students Week is an annual celebration of Mass. agriculture sponsored by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. Now in its 6th year, Harvest for Students Week is celebrated at schools and colleges across the Commonwealth. It gives school food services an opportunity to showcase (or try!) local foods, it supports local agriculture, and it’s a great way to kick off the school year.
Corn shucking, daily intercom announcements about local cafeteria offerings, farmers markets at school, a food-themed artwork contest, serving items from school gardens, inviting farmers and legislators to lunch, and a harvest potluck dinner are only a handful of the activities planned for this year. Stop by our website for more ideas and resources, including recipes, an activity guide, a sample press release, and promotional materials.
At the Mass. Farm to School Project we’re working to make every day in cafeterias and dining halls across the state Food Day. We facilitate sustainable purchasing relationships between schools and farms to increase local produce being fed to our students and to ensure that farming remains a viable enterprise in Massachusetts. And we, along with many other wonderful organizations, are promoting and providing local food and agriculture education for students.
When the Project began there were only a handful of districts interested in purchasing local products, and very few farms interested in selling. There are now more than 200 public school districts reporting that they preferentially purchase local products, more than 50 colleges saying the same, and more than 100 local farms supplying them all!
The growth in locally grown products in schools has been overwhelming and, while there’s still plenty of work to be done, it’s something that we should celebrate during Harvest for Students Week, Food Day, and throughout the year. Check out our website for ideas, to find out how other schools and colleges will be celebrating, and to let us know what you’re doing. And plan a celebration of your own for Harvest for Students Week and Food Day!