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From Virginia Department of Education

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is encouraging schools, businesses and community members across the commonwealth to celebrate Virginia Farm to School Week, October 2-6. The farm-to-school program helps connect schools with local food producers to purchase fresh, healthy food items for availability in school cafeterias and at early childhood education centers.

The Virginia Farm to School Week coincides with National Farm to School Month. In 2010, Congress declared October National Farm to School Month, recognizing the important role farm to school plays in promoting well-being among children and strong local economies.

Over the past decade, the farm-to-school movement has grown, reaching millions of students across the United States. From school gardens and farm field trips to local food on cafeteria trays, farm-to-school practices provide opportunities for students to learn where food comes from and to make healthier eating choices while creating new markets for local and regional farmers.

“Having locally produced foods available in our schools sends a strong educational message to our students,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “Our students see that eating healthy local fresh foods is not only good for them, it’s good for the environment, it’s good for their community. This is a great opportunity to connect our great agricultural resources with another great resource — our students.”

During Virginia Farm to School Week, a number of school divisions will be celebrating in unique ways, including the following:
· Charlottesville Public Schools will be promoting their Harvest of the Month: Garden to Table Snack Program, which offers students opportunities to explore seasonal produce items.
· Harrisonburg Public Schools will host Take it to the Track events ranging from bike rides and school garden-inspired school meals to a produce tastings hosted by Showalter’s Orchard and Wenger Grape Farm.
· Rappahannock County Public Schools — in partnership with Generation Fresh — will provide all third graders with $10 to purchase fresh produce during their visit to a local farmer’s market.

In addition, all Virginians are encouraged to make some noise for local farm-to-school programs by participating in the Crunch Heard ‘Round the Commonwealth event on October 4 at 10 a.m. At that time participants will be simultaneously taking a bite out of a locally sourced (i.e. Virginia) apple.

Additional information about celebrating Virginia Farm to School Week and the Crunch Heard ‘Round the Commonwealth, visit VDOE’s School Nutrition section of the website at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/nutrition/index.shtml.

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