ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Governor Larry Hogan has designated October 10-14, 2022, as Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week. Now in its 15th year, this annual promotion encourages Maryland schools to serve local food in lunches to show students where their food comes from and to introduce them to fresh, nutritious products made right here in Maryland.
Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week is an element of the Maryland Farm to School Program, which is administered by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). The program aims to bring locally-produced foods into schools, provide hands-on experiential learning to students, and integrate food-related education, while promoting the benefits of local, nutritious foods.
This year’s celebration will be held at Greensboro Elementary School (GES) in Caroline County. Planned activities for the event include Greensboro Elementary School students attending an assembly and hearing from agriculture and education officials about the connection between farms, food and nutrition. Speakers include: Greensboro Elementary School Principal Dawn Swann, Caroline County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Derek Simmons, and Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder.
During lunch, students will have the opportunity to sample locally-grown and -produced items during a “Taste Test.” Tasting stations featuring the following local agriculture and seafood products: cheese from Chapel’s Country Creamery in Easton; Maryland crab soup prepared by Chesapeake Culinary Center with ingredients from JM Clayton Seafood in Cambridge and Clayton Farms; applesauce and apple cider donuts from Blades Orchard in Federalsburg; microgreens from Red Acres hydroponics; milk from Bailey and Sons Dairy from Greenwood, Delaware; Oyster demo from Rink to Reef in St. Michaels; Spirulina from Cropper Farms in Salisbury featuring apple cider from Blades orchard ; zucchini bread from Shore Gourmet Market and Bartenfelder Farm cucumber slices from Harris Farms; and Watermelon and Fall Vegetables from Bartenfelder Farms in Preston. The lunch menu will also include wild caught Chesapeake Blue Catfish Cakes and local beef hotdogs by Hoffman’s Meats.
Culinary arts students prepared Italian Sausage using hogs raised by Caroline County Career and Technology agriculture students and purchased by Caroline County Public School Food and Nutrition. They also made Watermelon Mint Slushies with Watermelon from Bartenfelder Farms and Mint from Schafer Farms.
Other activities at the “Taste Testing” include a display from Choptank Community Health, tower gardens from Caroline County Public Schools, Shore Gourmet Mobile bus on site and a pumpkin seed activity from the University of Maryland Extension – Food Supplement Nutrition Education. Caroline Career and Tech Students from the Culinary Arts program and the Ag class will be promoting their classes during this event.
After lunch and the “Taste Test,” agricultural and educational leaders will read ag-related children’s books to students.
Other school districts across the state will participate in Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week by providing students with locally-sourced school meals and educational materials. Highlights from other counties are listed below:
- St. Mary’s County Public Schools will be holding several Farm to School events throughout the county. Town Creek Elementary will be holding their event on October 13 from 9 am-3 pm. Green Holly Elementary’s event will be held on October 14 from 9 am – 3 pm. Activities at both schools will include outdoor activities in stations (nutrition station, animal station, aquaculture, and farm-based ag), classroom activities and books.
- Baltimore, Charles, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, and Washington County Public Schools will have activities throughout the week for students to participate in.
- Carroll County Public Schools will host taste testing of fresh local produce at Taneytown, Parr’s Ridge, and Robert Morton Elementary Schools.
- Dorchester County Public Schools will hold “Guess the Weight” contests in several schools and will serve locally grown sweet potatoes at all schools. MDH-RICA Baltimore will have announcements each day about locally-sourced items
For educational materials, Harvest of the Month posters, produce seasonality charts, menus, places to find local products, a brief video soundbook with photos and interviews, plus much more for parents, teachers, and food service staff, please visit the Maryland Farm to School website.
According to the 2019 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Census, Maryland schools spent over $19 million on local foods in School Year 2018-2019. More than 95% of Maryland schools serve local foods, and nearly 97% of Maryland schools participate in Farm to School activities such as nutrition education, taste testing, gardening and collaborating with local farmers. Maryland was also the first state in the nation to have every public school system participate in the Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week.
Further details about Maryland’s school meals programs can be found on the Maryland State Department of Education’s website. More information on Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week can be found on MDA’s website. For questions or concerns, please contact MDA’s Karen Fedor at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 841-5773.
Governor Larry Hogan
“Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week is a great opportunity to highlight the important connection our communities have to agriculture and healthy eating,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “I encourage school systems across our state to participate this year by incorporating Maryland-grown or harvested foods in their meals and take time to learn more about how Maryland agriculture plays an essential role in our communities.”
Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder
“The Maryland Farm to School Program is tremendously beneficial to all parties involved. Farmers prosper by selling products to a stable market, schools benefit from access to fresh and high quality produce, and students are able to eat healthy, nutritious meals. Every year, Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week shows students how their food is made and who got it there. Establishing the importance of healthy eating and agriculture now, will help kids make better decisions in the future.”
Maryland State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury
“Homegrown School Lunch Week is an opportunity to showcase the hard work of Maryland schools
and school nutrition professionals that are committed to serving local foods in school meals and
providing agricultural education opportunities for students,” said State Superintendent of Schools
Mohammed Choudhury. “The Maryland State Department of Education is currently participating in a
United States Department of Agriculture Farm to School Grant and working with schools,
agricultural producers, and local food advocates to develop a sustainability plan to strengthen farm to
school efforts across the state. These partnerships will provide Maryland students with a wider
variety of healthy school meals.”
Derek Simmons, Caroline County Public Schools, Superintendent
“Caroline County Public Schools is honored to host the Maryland Home Grown School Lunch Week Kick-off. As a county with strong agricultural traditions, we are proud to showcase our valuable business and farming partners. We appreciate our dedicated food services staff and the agricultural community who play an integral part in keeping our students well-fed, healthy, and ready to learn.”
Dawn Swan, Principal Greensboro Elementary School
“Greensboro Elementary students and staff are excited to host the event this year! It is a hands-on way for our students to learn more about our strong ties to the agricultural community that supports them, our cafeteria, and our school.”
Beth Brewster, Caroline County Public Schools, Food & Nutrition Services Director
“We love highlighting our local farmers and bringing awareness to the incredible resources we have in Caroline County and on the Eastern Shore. Our team strongly believes in keeping our farmers farming and our children eating nutritious local produce. We are proud to serve locally-sourced food all year long. This past summer, our cafeteria staff processed 10,000 pounds of local produce to serve throughout the school year. This provides extra income to our farmers and staff, and wholesome, local food to our greatest asset – our children!”
–Jessica Hackett, Maryland Department of Agriculture