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Taste Washington Day seeks farmers, producers

Sep 2nd, 2016 | Category: Community

Taste Washington Day is an annual day of celebration of the farms that feed us. Schools around the state serve students locally-sourced lunches.  Washington School Nutrition Association (WSNA) and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Farm to School Program coordinate the annual celebration. This year, Taste Washington Day is Wednesday Oct. 5.

Farms can also participate in educational activities on Taste Washington Day that help kids learn about the farmers who grow their food. Activities can include inviting a farmer to lunch, visiting a local farm, a farmers market or school garden. COURTESY PHOTO

Farms can also participate in educational activities on Taste Washington Day that help kids learn about the farmers who grow their food. Activities can include inviting a farmer to lunch, visiting a local farm, a farmers market or school garden. COURTESY PHOTO

How can farms participate? Farms can sign up to be included on the list of participating farms and producers (contact Chris Iberle at ciberle@agr.wa.gov). Schools use the list to find farms to buy from for their Taste Washington Day lunch menus.

Some school nutrition directors are already planning their menus for Taste Washington Day. What’s on the menu? WSNA recommends these sample menus that include chicken, red potatoes, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and breads. Don’t worry if your produce doesn’t match the suggested menus. We also encourage schools to try new Washington-grown menu items and to work with farm partners like you to serve products that you have in season in early October.

Sample Menus include Winner Chicken Dinner, Greek Feast, It’s Chili Time, and Scrumptious Squash and Chicken Curry.

Farms can also participate educational activities on Taste Washington Day that help kids learn about the farmers who grow their food. Activities can include inviting a farmer to lunch, visiting a local farm, a farmers market or school garden, or hanging posters in the cafeteria. Farmers bring the day to life for kids! Contact your local school, or let WSDA know you are interested in coordinating a visit when you sign up.

Additional menus, recipes, promotional tools and information available at: www.wafarmtoschool.org/Page/28/Taste-Washington-Day.

For more information, contact Chris Iberle at ciberle@agr.wa.gov or (206) 256-1874.

 

Upcoming workshop

If you are curious about selling to schools but aren’t sure how to get started, a one-day workshop is available locally on Wednesday, Sept. 7.  The WSDA Farm to School team can help link you to schools in your area and facilitate the purchasing process. WSDA can also tailor promotional materials to highlight your farm, or help coordinate farmer visits.

The workshop is a project of WSDA Regional Markets’ Farm to School team and will be held at the WSU Mount Vernon Extension Center in Mt. Vernon 6-7:30 p.m. RSVP for Mt. Vernon for free at wsda.eventbrite.com.

The workshop is for fruit and vegetable growers working to meet school buyer needs, and to apply to become a vendor for the USDA Pilot Project for Unprocessed Fruits & Vegetables.

Discussion includes how schools buy food, how this market may be a good fit for your farm, and what strategies can help you access this market effectively. This training will help build capacity of farmers at all scales to meet schools’ demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables, and the unique challenges school sales present. Learn how to meet your buyers’ expectations for direct sales to schools, increase sales, and help get more Washington-grown fresh foods in front of students in your community.

At least half of this workshop will focus on the opportunity to become a vendor for the USDA Pilot Project for Unprocessed Fruits & Vegetables, which allows schools to use their USDA Foods entitlement funds to purchase fruits & vegetables locally. Learn what it is, how it works, and how farmers can apply for the program. Fruit and vegetable farmers, processors (frozen and dried produce is eligible), and distributors can all become approved by the USDA as vendors to sell to schools through the program. Time will be available at the end for in-person technical assistance on starting or completing your application.

To be eligible for the USDA Pilot Project, vendors must have a GAP, GHP or GMP certification and product liability insurance, but any farmers, processors, or distributors are invited to attend, regardless of food safety certification.

Published in the September 2016 issue of Grow Northwest

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