Where was the food on YOUR plate grown? - USDA Farm to School E-letter

USDA Farm to School E-Letter

August 26, 2014 | Volume 3, Issue 17

Where Was the Food on Your Plate Grown?

MyPlate Teams Up with the AgCensus to Offer Learning Opportunities

Vegetable Geography with AgCensus Data

With the help of new maps developed by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, you can find out where foods from the five main food groups represented in MyPlate are grown in the United States. The maps use Census of Agriculture results to illustrate where the food on your plate is coming from. These visualizations are coming at a great time for back to school and offer a variety of ways to explore agriculture, nutrition, math and science in the classroom. The maps are a perfect intersection of nutrition and agriculture education as they engage students in discovering agriculture in their own communities, while also illustrating how those foods fit into the MyPlate recommendations.  

Spotlight on Summer

Marion, Ohio

Kids garden at Marion

Providing healthy meals that include fresh, local products to 1,500 kids per day at 23 summer meal sites is a significant and noteworthy accomplishment. But Food Service Director Winnie Brewer from Marion, OH and her team go above and beyond in fighting the nutrition and learning gap that children can face during summer months. Marion City School District excels in improving the appeal of summer meals with fresh ingredients, providing enriching activities that enable kids to get their hands dirty and learn about where their food comes from, and engaging parents and families in adopting healthy habits that support the greater community. 

Children at all six of the city’s elementary school Summer Food Service Program sites participate in gardening activities like watering, weeding, and harvesting. Along with their families, the kids also benefit from free gardening lessons provided by Master Gardeners. Marion’s “Nourish the Body, Nourish the Mind” program includes a bright green bus that will distribute 4,000 free books to kids with their meals this summer. And to ensure that healthy habits continue at home, the district runs a weekly fresh produce market, made possible through a partnership with the Mid Ohio Food Bank and the support of Governor Kasich. Each week about 350 families access fresh items like watermelon, canteloupe, squash, cabbage, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, and eggplant. We love how this well-rounded approach hits all the marks in delivering kids and their families fresh foods, learning opportunities, and enriching garden-based activities in order to keep their minds and bodies nourished for this coming school year. Great work, Marion!

As summer draws to a close, take a moment to reflect upon this season’s successes in continuing farm to school activities during the summertime.

Bits from Blogs

Just Like a Peach, Without the Fuzz

Thomas Williams, USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director

They looked like apples to the twenty-seven children who were waiting patiently in line for lunch as part of the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at Old Plank Estates in Butler, PA. But in fact, Freedom Farms, a local farmers market, brought a bushel of fresh picked nectarines for the children in honor of National Farmers Market Week. Lisa King from Freedom Farms explained to the children that, while nectarines may look like apples, they’re more like peaches without the “fuzz”. Giggling, with juice running off their chins, the children enjoyed the foreign fruit...