On November 4th, the Massachusetts Farm to School Project hosted the 4th Annual Massachusetts Farm and Sea to School Conference in Leominster, MA. Farm to school advocates from all over the state attended the conference and participated in over twenty-five breakout sessions. The sessions addressed the challenges with local food procurement, the challenges associated with reducing food waste in schools, how to effectively involve youth in local agriculture, and much more.
Project Bread’s Chef Sam and Chef Nick led a breakout session on teaching children to like and eat local vegetables and another on making the most of the local harvest. On teaching kids to like and eat local vegetables, the Chefs whipped up a Kale Salad with yogurt dressing and talked about the importance of getting feedback from students. Chef Sam explained how the Chefs will sample new menu items, and take student feedback into account for the next iteration of the sample. For the second session, the chefs made butternut squash black bean quesadillas sprinkled with cinnamon and shared some tips on how to incorporate seasonal produce into school meals.
Project Bread’s Leran Minc helped lead another session on getting local food into Summer Meals Programs. Leran shared the best practices from five sites he worked with during the summer of 2016. He highlighted the successful Summer Food Service Programs sponsored by Greenfield Public Schools, Revere Public Schools, and the Greater Boston YMCA, and discussed the great work done by local site hosts at the Greenfield, Revere, Roxbury Crossing, Brigham Circle and Codman Square Farmers Markets.
This year, Massachusetts Farm to school recognized State Senator Anne Gobi and State Representative Tim Madden with the first ever “Kale Blazer” awards for their commitment to farm to school advocacy in Massachusetts. Senator Gobi has long been a supporter of Massachusetts farmers and the environment. She has supported legislation pushing for agricultural and technical schools, and she pushed for funding for farm to school programs. Representative Madden was the author of H.2782, an act that just recently passed, establishing Massachusetts Farm to School Month in Massachusetts. Both Senator Gobi and Representative Madden are strong partners in the farm to school advocacy, and both awards are very well-deserved!