As part of the Coulee Region Farm2School Program, students throughout the Coulee Region see locally grown fruits and vegetables on their lunch trays regularly throughout the school year. Beginning this September, two area school districts will also see locally raised ground beef on their plates! Kerri Feyen, food service director for West Salem and Bangor school districts, has worked to procure nearly 3000 pounds of raw, locally raised hamburger for this school year. The beef was raised by Paul Larson at Sun Ray Dairy in Mindoro, WI and was processed locally at Craig’s Meats, also in Mindoro.
“It is really about finding a balance between nutrition, physical activity, sustainability and the preservation of the local economy,” said Kerri Feyen. “We hope to continue our partnership with Sun Ray Dairy for many years and look forward to expanding our local purchases in the future!” As Coulee Region Farm2School Program enters its fifth year, area schools are purchasing more local foods than ever before. “We’re thrilled to see more and more local items making their way into school meals – schools have really branched out: dairy products, grains, frozen fruits and veggies during winter, and now local meat!” said Maggie Smith, Farm2School coordinator with La Crosse County Health Department. “Surveys we’ve completed show that parents, school staff and the community are excited about it too.”
With activities like cooking demonstrations led by local chefs and farmers, school gardens planted and harvested by students, and taste tests of new local foods, Farm2School is a win-win situation for farmers, children, the economy and the environment. Purchasing locally keeps more money in the pockets of local farms and businesses, and research has shown that fresher products are tastier too, which encourages children to eat more healthy foods.
Coulee Region Farm2School works with schools in Onalaska, Holmen, West Salem, Bangor and La Crosse School District, as well as La Crescent-Hokah in Minnesota. Some funding for the program is provided through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Transform Wisconsin project and the Wisconsin Partnership Program from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
For more information about Farm2School, contact Maggie Smith at email@example.com or 608-785-9792. Recipes and other information can be found at www.laxf2s.org. For more information about the school nutrition program at West Salem and Bangor School Districts, contact Kerri Feyen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-786-3078.