RELEASE: Celebrate Farm to Summer Week with Free, Local Meals for Kids

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Press Release Minnesota Department of Education

For Immediate Release

Contact: Wendy Hatch


July 27, 2020

Previous Announcements

Celebrate Farm to Summer Week with Free, Local Meals for Kids

Schools and community organizations serve locally grown foods leading up to the Cucumber Crunch on July 30

Minnesota schools and community organizations are celebrating Farm to Summer Week July 27-31 with local, fresh food and virtual learning experiences. The highlight of the week will be the Cucumber Crunch held on Thursday, July 30, an optional and virtual event where students receive locally grown cucumbers and crunch into them at once.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sponsors of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program have worked hard to meet the increased need for food and adapted the way they provide meals to make pick-up or delivery meals contactless. Summer meal sponsors are also finding creative ways to help them develop healthy, lifelong habits from a distance and incorporate the Farm to Summer program. While each Farm to Summer program looks different, they all center around one or more of these core principles:

  • Procurement: local foods are purchased, promoted and served
  • Gardens: students engage in learning through gardening
  • Education: students participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health and nutrition

“The partnership between Minnesota schools and local growers and food distributors is critical to meeting the needs of our communities,” said Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker. “With more of our families experiencing economic challenges and food insecurity, we’re grateful to our summer meal sponsors for providing free, nutritious and local meals to our children.”

All summer, families can pick up a free meal for children under 18 from one of hundreds of schools and community organizations taking part in the summer meals program across the state. Find the closest location by texting “food” to 877-877 or by downloading the “Free Meals for Kids” app. Information on locations providing meals is also available in Spanish by texting “comida” to 877-877. Information on the “Free Meals for Kids” app is also available in Hmong, Oromo, Russian, Somali and Spanish.

MDE is collaborating with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) to provide schools with additional funding to begin, diversify and increase purchases directly from Minnesota producers or from Minnesota producers via distributors and food hubs.

“We’re thrilled that healthy, local food choices remain available to kids throughout the summer,” Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said. “Extending our Farm to School connections through the growing season is also very important for our local farmers.”

Up to $124,000 in funding will be awarded through the AGRI Farm to School Rapid Response Grant. Schools can apply for the grant on the MDA website until August 12, 2020, or until all funds are gone.

To learn more about farm to summer and farm to summer week, visit MDE’s Summer Food Service Program webpage and view the Farm to Summer Week Fact Sheet.