Delicious Display at Syracuse City School District Farmers Market 2013
Many people visit their local Farmers Markets on the weekend to find locally grown fruits and vegetables. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Farmers Market come to you? One very creative and motivated Food Service Director in Syracuse, NY, did just that. She hoped that creating this positive experience through exposure to fruits and vegetables for students would increase their willingness to try new items on the lunch menu. The results were overwhelmingly positive and there are now plans to set a Farmers Market up in at least 6 more schools in the district during this school year.
Thinking about setting up a Farmers Market in your school district?
Here are the steps to take to plan and implement a successful in-school Farmers Market:
Obtain funding to purchase fruits and vegetables or establish a budget from current finances.
Check with the school district’s food suppliers to see if they have freebies/giveaways. One such program is called Cool School Café, which allows a school or school district to earn points by purchasing foods from participating companies. These companies deposit “points” into an account and continue to add up. These points can be redeemed for items from the Cool School Catalog which has a wide assortment of foodservice related educational items. One idea is to redeem the points for colorful paper bags. Add nutrition education messages to these bags and fill them with fruit or vegetables for students to take home.
Enlist your sales reps! One example: A local Food Service Director knew that one of her sales reps had previously had worked as a professional chef. She enlisted his culinary services for their first Farmers Market. His company donated whole wheat flat bread, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, and olive oil. He donated his time to create Grilled Vegetable Flatbread Pizzas, using the donations as well as some of the produce that was being displayed at the Farmer’s Market. Every child who visited his display was offered a sample of the flatbread pizza!
Call your local media well in advance. Media coverage provides recognition for the district, the food service program and for those that sponsored the project. Enlist the schools’ art teacher (or classroom teachers) to make signage and posters advertising the Farmers Market. Another idea is to have the After School Program assist with signage.
Things you will need for the day of the event:
Team Nutrition Website: free or inexpensive coloring books; hand-outs, posters etc. which can be ordered to use with the display.
Farm-to-School Website: more information on farm-to-school grants, fact sheets and other resources available.