We're exited to share this guest blog post from Sarah Martinez at Tooele School District. Their farm to summer events this year were a great example of how farm to fork isn't limited to the school cafeteria. Read on to learn all about it!
We were excited to be back at our park sites this year to serve the community summer lunch. Families had been used to grab & go meals because of COVID-19, and we wanted to make eating at the park an enjoyable experience. We also wanted to attract our community to come and eat our free, nutritious meals. We hosted four Farm to Summer events, one at each of our park sites; we planned to serve local food at each event and have a variety of activities for families and children to enjoy.
Our first event was early in June, and farmers did not have crops ready, so instead, we promoted how our milk is always local. On the other event days, we partnered with a few different farmers to serve local radishes, cherries, and apricots. To figure out where we could get our local items, we started by sending out a Request for Information (RFI) in late Spring.
We didn’t get the response we had hoped, so next year, we will send an RFI out earlier, giving farmers and ourselves more time to plan. We marketed our events using a large sign posted at the host park for a week before the event. We posted on social media, our district website, and our digital menu site.
We partnered with the USBE Child Nutrition staff who provided a photo booth with farm-related props the children could hold and put on. Dairy West provided a cow tipping activity where children lined up to toss balls at the mini cows and see how many they could knock over. They also provided little prizes and educational material to share with the community.
Tooele County Health Department brought educational resources and exciting diagrams from which to learn. USU Extension 4H program had a fun activity that got participants moving. The Tooele library brought chalk and information on the summer reading program, providing a win-win partnership.
It was fun for everyone involved, and the children loved having something new at the park. Our lunch service participation doubled on event day and stayed at an increased rate on days following the event at our Grantsville location. Next year, I think it will be worth our effort to do Farm to Summer events again, and we are grateful to the farmers and the organizations willing to volunteer their time and resources.