By Lesli Mueller, Child Nutrition Director
Hutchinson Public Schools’ Summer Feeding program is proudly sourcing produce from nine local farms in the area. Kids can look forward to filling up on the freshest cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, melons, sweet peppers, and more this summer.
What’s special about foods from our local farmers? First, freshly harvested fruits and vegetables are not only packed with vitamins and minerals, they also contain phytochemicals. These naturally occurring compounds give extra protection against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Phytochemicals are responsible for the vibrant colors and delicious flavors found in fruits and vegetables. All of these components are most concentrated when they’re fresh! Next up, flavor. Tomatoes, for example, fresh from the farms have a noticeable better flavor than what’s purchased from a grocer. This is true of all local produce–stay tuned for snappy broccoli, that old-fashioned carrot flavor, and cooling cucumbers. The Farm to School program allows us to highlight fruit and vegetables varieties not offered by distributors. The best taste is often found in the varieties that don’t handle the long-road shipping practices.
Summer school students and meal pick-up families will receive all the awesomeness Farm to School offers. It’s a win-win of supporting our neighboring farmers, keeping our resources close to home, and feeding kids in our community the freshest, most nutrient dense, and flavorful food!
I strongly recommend and encourage families in the community to take advantage of the school’s summer feeding program. Kids ages 1-18 all can eat for free. Included in bulk packed meals for pick up only, besides local fruits and vegetables, will be breakfast and lunch school menu favorites. Italian Dunkers, Chicken Sandwich, BBQ Pulled Pork and Omelets just to name a few. Most entrée items will come frozen, but easy to follow heating instructions are listed on our website. June 9 – August 13, excluding the week of July 5 – 9, is the duration of the program. Pick up days are Mondays and Wednesdays at Hutchinson High School, behind the school at Door 8 between the times of 10:45am-12:15pm. Go to the school website or look for posted flyers around town for more information on the summer feeding program.
My hope is that you find value and connection by accessing locally-grown foods through our new Farm to School program. Throughout this journey your kids will learn more about seasonal eating, participate in their own wellness, try new things, and have opportunities to build more hands-on life skills in the garden. Enjoy the gems of our seasonal abundance at school and at home!