Reporting John Lauritsen
HOPKINS, Minn. (WCCO) – Fresh farm produce in school lunches. That’s the goal of the Farm-to-School program.
It’s been around since the late 1990s. But now a new documentary is showing how the program is working here in Minnesota.
We went to Hopkins West Junior High School where the system has been in place since 2009.
Hopkins West Junior High is one of 160 Minnesota school districts that are participating in the farm to school program.
Barb Mechura, director of nutrition services, has made it her mission to push for fresh produce.
“I think the Farm-to-School program is important because it really connects children with where their food comes from,” said Mechura. “The program helps our health crisis. These foods are so much more nutrient dense, we’re giving them minerals and nutrients that our body needs.”
The goal of the program is to let students know where their food comes from, and to taste the freshness.
Greg Reynolds’ Riverbend Farm provides produce to the Hopkins School District.
“They are really excited to see a whole carrot, and a lot don’t know what it is,” said Reynolds. “They are buying about 5 percent of what we produce.”
Considering only 1 in 5 Minnesota children eat five or more servings of fruits and veggies each day, these nutrients are badly needed.
Reynolds says it’s a win-win for everyone. Local farmers get to sell their crops, and children are fully nourished.
“What better thing would you want to do than to help kids have a better chance,” said Reynolds.
Students Carston Hernke and Prayer Welwean love the fresh foods that are available come lunch time.
“They let you take as much as you want, so I usually take a lot of fruit and it’s really good,” said Carston.
“We have a variety of vegetables and fruit,” said Prayer. “I like it because some of them wouldn’t be my favorite but they always have something I can eat.”
The documentary is called “Farm To School: Growing Our Future.”
To learn more about the Farm-to-School program and the documentary, click here.