Farm to school continues to grow

Enterprise Staff

The Farm to School program in Livingston is participating in a community local food purchasing initiative with the help of the Montana Harvest of the Month or HOM Program.

Local, seasonal foods are being featured monthly in hospital, preschool and public school menus. The HOM program began in the K-12 environment where monthly local food items were featured through classroom and garden lessons and parent outreach, acccording to an HOM news release.

This month’s featured produce item is apples. For the school year, the seasonal food items are as follows: winter squash, carrots, beets, beef, grains, lentils and leafy greens.

Livingston schools are entering their third year participating in the HOM program, where local food procurement has increased to 25 percent since its launch and hundreds of children have learned about healthy eating and gardening, according to the release.

Statewide, over 140 schools are participating in HOM and local food purchasing has reached close to 2 million dollars. Due to the success of the program, Harvest of the Month has expanded to Early Childcare Education programs and hospitals.

Food Service Director Michelle Carter and Farm to School Coordinator Rachael Jones connect classrooms to local foods through an outdoor learning garden and serves local foods to the lunch menu.

Livingston Healthcare and Montessori Island School recently began receiving education materials on the program.

Local grocery stores are also joining the conversation and plan to feature HOM starting in January, according to the release.