Thursday, October 20, 2016

Washington students enjoy Taste Washington Day during National Farm to School month

Chris Iberle
Education and Outreach
Farm to School 

October is National Farm to School Month, and at many Washington state schools, it began with Taste Washington Day.

Salem Woods Elementary
lunch on Taste Washington Day.
This year, the event fell on Oct. 5th, as students and farmers came together to celebrate Washington agriculture. There were 45 school districts participating in this year’s Taste Washington Day, the sixth year of the event. That means at least 280,000 students ate seasonal, Washington-grown lunches and learned more about local food and farms.

Over 50 farmers signed up to be a part of the event, providing everything from apples to beef to cabbage, from watermelon radishes to zucchini. Beyond growing all kinds of tasty ingredients for the menu, farmers were guest speakers, set up displays in the cafeteria, did taste tests of their foods, and even gave interviews.

First lady Trudi Inslee and a
Pierce County Public Works educator
visit students on Taste Washington Day.
The event, officially proclaimed Taste Washington Day by Gov. Inslee, was organized by WSDA and the Washington School Nutrition Association with support from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and many regional Farm to School partner organizations.

The annual event brings schools and farms together so students can learn where our food comes from and how Washington farmers put food on our plates.

It’s also a chance for many farms to strengthen or form new partnerships selling food directly to schools.

First lady Trudi Inslee visited the Eatonville School District, where Washington-grown produce was on the menu and Mrs. Inslee could lunch with the kids. As part of the visit, Mrs. Inslee learned about Columbia Crest A-STEM academy’s green school initiatives and visited the new Kjalsted Valley Ohop Farm, where students will soon be able to learn on the farm each year thanks to the recent gifting of the farm to the Eatonville School District.

Celebrating Taste Washington Day

Nutrition staff at all of the participating schools served menus featuring foods from local farms.
  • At Methow Valley Elementary, students enjoyed a lunch of beef, potatoes, cucumbers, onions, and greens from their own school garden, Red Shed Farm in Twisp, Tomlinson Farms, and homemade buns from Bluebird Grains. 
  • At the Mead School District, students were served pluots, bell peppers, and green garbanzo beans from LINC Foods/Jackson Farms, Tabbers Farm, Delap Orchards, and Fresh Nature Foods. 
  • While in the Wenatchee School District, the menu was sourced almost entirely from within 60 miles of the district, even including tilapia fish raised by a Wenatchee High School Student for school lunches.
At some school districts, Taste Washington Day was celebrated in other ways. Students at Lake Stevens School District brought applesauce from their own apple trees at home to share with classmates. Moses Lake School District invited dairy farmers to speak to students in the cafeteria about farming and healthy dairy foods like milk. The local news covered the activities at Ridgefield School District where Quackenbush Farms and Northwest Organic Produce visited schools to talk with students.

Students at Carnation Elementary 
taste produce from nearby Oxbow Farms.

Many schools like those in the Grandview and Evergreen school districts had big “Washington Apple Crunch” celebrations on Oct. 5. Students across the state “crunched” into their locally grown Washington apples all together at noon. WSDA and other organizations even joined in the fun, to make an apple crunch heard ‘round the country.’

A big thanks to all the school districts, farmers, and students who help make Taste Washington Day a success every year.