OLYMPIA, Wash. — Locally grown food in school cafeterias across Washington will be in the spotlight as schools and farms participate in Taste Washington Day. The annual celebration of farm to school connections is a chance to enjoy and learn about the bounty and diversity of healthy and delicious Washington grown foods. This year the day falls on October 5, which Governor Inslee proclaimed as Taste Washington Day. The day helps kick off National Farm to School Month locally.
Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Child Nutrition (OSPI), and the Washington State Nutrition Association (WSNA) work in partnership to promote the Taste Washington Day, which is now in its twelfth year.
Every year schools feature Washington-grown menus and plan special events, such as inviting a farmer to lunch or participating in the Washington Apple Crunch. Many students also visit school gardens and learn about nutrition and agriculture through cafeteria and classroom activities.
“Taste Washington Day is a great way to illustrate the connection between the agricultural community and the nutritious food our children need to succeed,” said WSDA Director Derek Sandison.
More than 20 schools and 30 farmers have already signed up for the event, and it’s not too late for schools to sign up and share how they plan to celebrate local foods in school meals on Taste Washington Day. Participating schools use Taste Washington Day as an opportunity to highlight special seasonal menus and celebrate what “farm to school” means to them.
Planned activities include serving a Washington-grown food as part of a breakfast or lunch, highlighting the farm sources on menus, sharing special menus and information about local food and agriculture for students to take home, and offering taste tests of local foods. Some schools plan to harvest and distribute produce from their gardens. Many students will bite into an apple Oct. 5 at noon as part of the “Washington Apple Crunch.” Schools may choose to celebrate on a different day, or plan activities throughout, the whole month.
Schools and childcare centers are also working with growers in their communities to source foods directly from local farms. This year, some schools and childcares are getting a boost in their local purchasing thanks to WSDA Farm to School Purchasing Grants awarded earlier this year.
“Taste Washington Day is an excellent opportunity to celebrate all the foods that are produced in Washington, helping kids learn about the foods they eat and where they come from,” Annette Slonim, WSDA Farm to School lead, said.
–Washington State Department of Agriculture