October 5, 2023
Locally grown food was in the spotlight in school cafeterias throughout Washington state on Oct. 4 as schools and farms participated in Taste Washington Day.
The day is an annual celebration of farm-to-school connections and provides the Evergreen State’s children with the opportunity to enjoy and learn about the bounty and diversity of local fresh foods.
The day helps kick off National Farm-to-School Month locally, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
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.
Local crops highlighted
More than 40 schools and nearly 50 farmers participated. Activities included serving locally grown food at breakfast or lunch, such as whole wheat muffins with local flour, local grass-fed beef in burgers, chilis and stews, and a rainbow of local fruit and veggies such as kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, carrots beets, potatoes, and local apples and pears.
Schools are sourcing many ingredients directly from local producers, officials said.
“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.
With support from the WSDA Farm to School Purchasing Grant, school districts can also apply for additional funding to support local food purchases all year-round. The application period is currently open and closes Oct. 16.
Source: Washington State Department of Agriculture
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