Growing Young Minds with Harvest of the Month

Author: Brandi Bohlman, Nourish Farm-to-School Educator

Program Manager, Ryan Laswell, with Harvest of the Month educational poster.

Program Manager, Ryan Laswell, with Harvest of the Month educational poster.

In today’s world, food illiteracy is a very real problem. Nourish Farms, a good-food non-profit based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin is working diligently to address this concern by developing education materials that are accessible to everyone. Nourish’s Harvest of the Month (HOTM) materials are monthly educational pieces that highlight seasonally appropriate foods that can be sourced locally in our area. Being the Wisconsin cheeseheads that we are, we didn’t forget to include cheese in our three year rotation.

The HOTM for January 2019 is indeed, Cheese. This month Nourish is featuring local cheese companies Sartori and Sargento in our programming. Nourish works as a partner in schools to enrich their afterschool programs. Nourish shows up to sites at least once a week to provide a healthy snack that features the HOTM. The snack recipe changes from week to week to expose kids to the diverse ways that foods can be prepared as well as to help students understand flavors and textures. A few recipes featured this month are potato au gratin and mac and trees (broccoli). We know that with increased exposure to new fruits and vegetables, comes increased acceptance of those foods. It may take as many as fifteen tries for a certain food to become palatable for kids, so it is important to keep re-introducing it in different ways. We theorize that with an increased acceptance of vegetables, this will translate to improved food decisions at home and in the lunch line. One of Nourish’s goals is to develop a model that can be passed along to school districts to integrate more local and seasonal foods. The recipes used in the Snack program are scaled to meet federal reimbursement requirements and can be integrated in the lunch program. Currently Nourish is working with the Sheboygan Area School District to integrate more local foods.

Followed by the dish served in the Snack program, Nourish provides a fifteen minute lesson. These lessons are derived from HOTM categories such as health benefits, biology and ecology, business and economics, and history and culture. Lessons are designed to be interactive and hands-on, and may include teaching kids how to plant different crops, reading food labels, and looking at maps. In recognition of the diverse needs of our community, we are working on translating all of our Harvest of the Month materials into Spanish to help reach a wider community.

We are working to make our materials accessible to everyone who is looking to learn and educate about food. Our Harvest of the Month materials are posted on our website.