Effort made to connect specialty crops, schools
The Center for Rural Affairs is partnering with University of Nebraska Extension to offer free farm to school trainings to Nebraska’s school food service staff and fruit and vegetable growers.
One of the training sites is at North Platte Public School on Saturday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT. Lunch is included.
Food service staff and managers can learn techniques to work smarter, not harder, in finding and incorporating local fruits and vegetables.
Trainers Fayrene Hamouz and Georgia Jones, UNL Associate Professors in the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences, will address predictable demand and supply of locally grown food for Nebraska Child Nutrition Programs.
Hamouz recognizes that “adding local fruits and vegetables to the school lunch menu invests in the local economy, as well as contributes to the health and vitality of Nebraska’s youth.”
Farmers will learn techniques for connecting and working with schools including food safety regulations, navigating school order cycles, product demand and packaging needs.
Fraas said, “This workshop will give farmers some marketing knowledge and access to school food buyers. It’s a good opportunity to describe their crops and meet the school food service people who could become customers.
“In addition, farmers can learn just what produce or other farm products these Nebraska schools are looking for,” she said.
The training will be spent in shared one-on-one and group discussion in order for farmers and school food service staff to make connections and share ideas.
According to Smith, students who try fresh local fruits and vegetables at school often go home asking for the same products at their dinner tables.
Now is the time for schools to consider how local foods can expand menu planning opportunities in the National School Lunch Program, and at the same time increase student enjoyment.
The free trainings are designed for school food service staff and managers, and specialty crop producers.