November 22, 2013
Katherine Sims, Executive Director
Green Mountain Farm-to-School
Vermont Food Service Companies Embrace Local
“Harvest of the Month”
(STATEWIDE) Two of the major food service management companies in Vermont—Café Services and The Abbey Group—have joined the Harvest of the Month (HOM) project and pledged to feature a variety of local produce year-round. Together these two companies serve 89 schools statewide. Their commitment more than doubles the number of students and communities benefitting from this new program. Local farm sales are up as well.
HOM offers beautiful and informative free materials to help participating schools promote the use of local, seasonal foods. Original illustrated posters, recipes, and curricula materials about the featured items are supplemented by a monthly e-newsletter, with lots of ideas about how to incorporate the produce into school meal sites and community celebrations.
HOM kicked off this fall as an easy way for schools to incorporate the “3 Cs” (classroom, cafeteria, and community) of Farm-to-School. Food Connects in Brattleboro and Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS) in Newport developed the program with support from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Food and Farm Initiative, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. and the Harris and Frances Block Foundation.
“HOM is not only impacting the students by getting more healthy, local foods featured on school menus, it is also giving our farmers a boost,” says Katherine Sims, GMFTS Executive Director. “We recorded local sales of broccoli and cauliflower at 8 to 10 times that of our pilot program last year.”
“The Abbey Group sees this as a win-win,” adds Nina Hansen, School Nutrition Specialist. “We are already committed to local purchasing, but HOM adds a wonderfully designed grassroots way to get kids to try new foods and whole communities thinking about ways to use produce that is grown close by.”
For Café Services President and CEO Brian Stone, the decision to join HOM was clear. “The program makes it very easy to give these seasonal items great exposure in our cafeterias and is a welcome addition to our efforts to bring healthy foods to the institutions we serve.”
To date the HOM network reaches over 40,000 students at 164 Vermont schools, with more joining every week. According to figures from the Windham Farm and Food hub the number of buyers for the monthly featured item has doubled compared to a year ago.
“Many schools have a strong interest in promoting local food, but don’t know how to get started,” explains Food Connects Executive Director Richard Berkfield. “This project was modeled, field-tested, and launched to address this challenge.”
The Community Foundation’s new Food and Farm Initiative is supporting work at the intersection of local agriculture and food security to ensure that all Vermonters have the opportunity to eat healthy, local food. “The commitment from these businesses is critical to getting this campaign off the ground,” said Janet McLaughlin, special projects director at the Foundation. “We look forward to seeing all of Vermont’s schools join the Harvest of the Month network.”
To find out more:
- Food Connects www.foodconnects.org or contact Richard Berkfield at Richard@foodconnects.org, (802) 258-8902.
- Green Mountain Farm-to-School www.GreenMountainFarmtoSchool.org or contact Katherine Sims at firstname.lastname@example.org, (802) 334-2044.
- Café Services, Brian Stone. President/ CEO, email@example.com
- The Abbey Group, Nina Hansen, School Nutrition Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org