Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Taste Washington Day 2014

Taste Washington Day 2014

So many districts participated in Taste Washington Day this year!  Here are a few we have heard from. The newspaper articles linked include lots of great photos and stories!  Please continue to share your successes with us, and visit our Taste Washington Day page to learn more about this great event celebrating Washington agriculture and school meals.

Wenatchee School District - Wenatchee elementary school students were joined by Washington's First Lady Trudi Inslee and Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Bud Hover, along with Farmer Ken Toevs of T&T Farms and Rancher Cass Gebbers of Gebbers Farms. State's First Lady praises Wenatchee school's local food program - Wenatchee World
Wenatchee's middle and high schools also had all local menus on Taste Washington Day, and each school had a display table hosted by local farmers and ranchers.  Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network's Fresh Food in Schools project staff assisted the district in celebrating the day. 

Bethel School DistrictDistrict webpage article  (incl. menu!)

Bethel Child Nutrition Staff pride on Taste Washington Day

Bellingham School District - Multimedia/Photo set - The Bellingham Herald
Bellingham and other Whatcom County school districts celebrated Taste Washington Day with their local salad greens being featured as October's Harvest of the Month.  Bellingham's menu featured roasted chicken drumsticks from Draper Valley Farms in Mount Vernon, rosemary roasted red potatoes from Pioneer Farms in Skagit Valley, mixed green salad and cherry tomatoes from Sterino Farms in Puyallup and carrots from Hopewell Farms and Cloud Mountain Farms in Everson.  Whatcom's farm to school efforts are supported by the Whatcom Farm-to-School team.

Concrete School District - Concrete students enjoyed Kale-idoscope salad and other local produce for Taste Washington Day, and were joined by County Commissioner Sharon Dillon and Julie Yee of USDA, along with other local supporters! The Concrete team also held Taste Test Tuesday the week before, to test recipes with students in preparation for the big day!

two young children enjoy their lunch.  One is eating corn on the cob and the other is taking a bit of kale-idoscope salad.Students at Concrete School District enjoyed local corn on the cob,
roasted potatoes, and Kale-idoscope salad!

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/10/01/3889270_taste-washington-day.html?&rh=1#storylink=cpy
Central Valley School District -  Students meet farmer as CVSD promotes healthy foods – The Spokesman-Review
Fourteen elementary schools in Central Valley School District celebrated by serving locally-grown foods.  Farmer Dan Jackson visited Broadway Elementary.  Local Inland Northwest Cooperative Foods – LINC Foods – a new Spokane-based organization that helps farmers connect with schools and universities, supported the project.

Conway Elementary School - Conway students enjoyed  carrots from Ralph's Greenhouse, along with potatoes with homemade chili and cheese sauce. Local delicacies devoured during Taste Washington Day  - Skagit Valley Herald 

Mead School District served a local lunch in elementary schools with roasted chicken, Shepard's Grain wheat rolls, Washington milk, and an assortment of local produce, and highlighted the farms in their specially-decorated cafeterias.  High school students were treated to Mock-Guacamole made with split peas to top their taco salads.

Taste Washington Day signs for red potatoes, pluots, bell peppers and cucumber highlighted the farms that grew the food.Signs displayed in Mead School District schools
highlighted local growers and their produce.

Riverview School District - worked with local farmers to bring students a great meal served with local food from Oxbow Farm, Full Circle Farm, Local Roots Farm, Flower World, and Cherry Valley Dairy to feature what is grown and produced right here in the Snoqualmie Valley. The food was served on the salad bars at all schools during lunch. FFA members from Cedarcrest High School visited the cafeterias to promote agriculture and offer samples of the local products to all students. Samples included yellow and purple carrots, green and yellow and purple beans, baby lettuce, kale made into kale chips, roasted gold and red beets, cucumbers and cheese cubes. The Food Services Department also offered students a delicious chocolate brownie made from Shepherd’s Grain flour. Shepherd’s Grain is a group of 33 family wheat farmers in the Pacific Northwest and the wheat is milled in Spokane. 

Riverview School District's Salad bar includes local cucumbers, sweet peppers, beans and purple carrots.
A peek at Riverview School District's colorful salad bar.

Pe Ell and Riverview School Districts - Farmers, schools taste potential partnerships - Capital Press 

Wahkiakum County Extension Office Nutrition Education Program worked with J A Wendt Elementary School and The John C Thomas Middle School to present a Farmers Market eventFarmers brought samples and displayed farm information for students to visit and receive stamps on their "Passports" with info for each farm attending. Students sampled fresh apple slices,  applesauce,  salmon dip on crackers,  cheese,  smoothies made with kale, banana, apples and milk, a variety of local produce was sampled from cut up raw veggies, like carrot, pepper, radishes, and fresh roasted beets and new potatoes, and kale chips.  Farmers present that day, were surprised by the willingness of the students to try new foods.

Student at Wahkiakum's Taste Washington Day Farmers Market.
A student looks on during the Farmers Market event in Wahkiakum.

Waitsburg School District served an all local lunch with beef, fruit, vegetables, grain, and cheeses all sourced within a 10 mile radius.  This was their first time celebrating Taste Washington Day!

Auburn School District hosted a tasting table at Rainier Middle School, and were joined by Farmer Amy Moreno-Sills from Four Elements Farm, where students enjoyed samples of fruits and vegetables, including Four Elements Farm carrots with tops.

Nutrition Director and Farmer stand at display table full of produce for Taste Washington Day
Auburn Child Nutrition Director and Four Elements
Farmer Amy Moreno-Sills at the Taste Washington Day table.

Ridgefield School District celebrated Taste Washington Day at all five of their schools, serving chicken drumsticks, red roasted rosemary potatoes, kale salad, whole wheat rolls and fresh pears and nectarines.  A local organic farmer from Northwest Organic Farms visited and displayed their organic produce and gave out samples of Asian Pears from their gardens.

Lunch plate with chicken, roasted potatoes and kale salad displayed with Governor's Taste Washington Day Proclamation and table tent.
Ridgefield School District's Taste Washington Day lunch display
includes the Governor's Taste Washington Day Proclamation.

Vancouver School District Fort Vancouver High School students celebrated Taste Washington Day as their 1st Annual International Harvest Day in their garden.  Students and staff brought potluck dishes made with veggies and fruit grown in their garden.

Seattle Public Schools served a Washington-grown lunch featuring Palouse lentil sloppy joes from Columbia bean Company, with a variety of local foods.
lentils from Moses Lake Cucumbers from Auburn and Nectarines and red peppers from Wapato
A sign promoting the local offerings in Seattle.

Cascade School District served Cloudview EcoFarms fingerling potatoes and fresh salad greens from Hope Mountain Farm in Plain.  They also posted farmer posters and menus to celebrate.

Monroe School District served a local salad from Willie Green's.  Later in October, they are also hosting a lunch with a Willie Green's farmer.  Bonus: an article from a farmers market event the district held in August - http://www.snoho.com/news_archives_2014/news_082014.html (look down the page a bit on the news page!)

Sign from Monroe Cafeteria with words: Willie Green's Organic Baby Greens with Washington Apples and Apple-Shallot Vinaigrette Sign from Monroe School District's Taste Washington Day

Ephrata School District served sliced apples and fresh pluots from American Produce Express in six schools.  Two elementary schools visited Cloudview Farm for farm field trips.

Wahluke School District served an assortment of fruit in elementary, junior, and high schools, including pears and apples from Tonnemaker Hill Farm, nectarines from Magana Farms, apples from K&C Farms and pluots from American Produce Express.  Diane, the nutrition director, wore a pear costume and visited K-2 students.  October menus promoted Taste Washington Day and National Farm to School month.

Governor Proclaims October 1st 2014 Taste Washington Day!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Taste Washington Day 2012

September 26, 2012 was Taste Washington Day!

Schools around the state received media coverage of their diverse events:

Spokesman-Review - Washington produce featured on school salad bar

goskagit - a celebration of local produce in Skagit's schools

Capital Press – 1) Taste Washington Day puts local food front and center; 2) Busy cafeteria serve Washington foods

Chinook Observer - Naselle marks Taste Washington Day

Aginfo.net (radio) – 1) WSPC Commissioner Elected & Taste Washington Day; 2) Celebrating Washington Agricultural Diversity

Bellingham Families (blog) - Taste Washington Day

Liberty Lake (KXLY) - Local foods coming to school cafeterias today Andy Billig, representative for the 3rd legislative district in Spokane, says this project is not only good for students, but business as well. “Healthy meals with fresh, local food improve student learning and student health while also helping local farmers,” Billig said. “Farm-to-school programs create a healthy community for all.”

Bellingham Herald - Taste Washington at Skyline Elementary

Seattle Public Schools (District's own publication)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Growing to school: Students taste success with local food program

Growing to school: Students taste success with local food program

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Taste Washington Day at Wenatchee High School last fall allowed local growers to tout the quality and value of their produce to teen consumers.


• The Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network: wsffn.org

Fresh Food in Schools is a three-year project which aims to increase the amount of public school food budget dollars spent on Washington grown produce, and to build meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships between school food programs and local farmers.

Twenty school districts across the state have been selected to participate in this project in order to create or enhance a farm-to-school program. Within North Central Washington, the school districts selected are Oroville, Tonasket and Wenatchee.

An example of community success related to this project is Taste Washington Day, which took place last year on Sept. 28.

On Taste Washington Day, school meals feature locally grown fruits, grains and vegetables, and provide activities for students to learn about the farms that feed them. The lunch menu in Wenatchee schools included tomato, black bean and cabbage salsa along with carrot “coins” and cucumber “wheels” — all fresh produce grown by Cloudview Ecofarms near Vantage.

Students sampled freshly picked fruits from Smithson Ranch in Peshastin at a mini-farmers market set up at Foothills Middle School. Wenatchee High School FFA students and ASB leadership students visited elementary schools to tell kids that a pluot is a plum-apricot and show them what a carrot straight from the ground looks like (complete with greens). The high school students tried to convey the importance of eating nutritious fruits and vegetables as well as the importance of our agricultural heritage.

Wenatchee schools have been sourcing locally grown fruits and vegetables directly from a number of regional farms over the past year. In fact, Jan Hanson the kitchen manager at Wenatchee High School, says “Everyday is Taste Washington Day in Wenatchee schools,” because schools here are prioritizing locally grown produce.

In the first three weeks of the current school year, Jan’s kitchen bought over 2,000 pounds of produce directly from local farmers rather than relying solely on Food Service of America’s products.


Wenatchee High School students passed out locally grown fruits and vegetables to elementary school students on Taste Washington Day in late September.

The development of farm-to-school programs in the region has mostly grown from the efforts of individual champions within school or farming communities and timely connections with other collaborators. For example, farmer Albert Roberts of Slow Food Okanogan organized a meeting with the Tonasket superintendent, school board members and the food service director who manages school meals for Oroville, Tonasket and Omak districts. This meeting helped spark a series of discussions in the schools, in community meetings and at the Okanogan Farmers Market to find ways to address the particular challenges related to high insurance liability and GAP (good agricultural practices) certification required for farmers by the schools’ food management company. These barriers remain at this time, but the schools are very enthusiastic to support local farms while improving student access to fresh, minimally processed foods.

The success of Taste Washington Day and the planned harvest of the month programs that turn cafeterias into classrooms inspire us to find the ‘win-win’ community solution. When students can put a face on their food and that food tastes good as well, then they are more likely to eat the half a plate of fruits and vegetables that they should to maintain optimal health and combat the recent tripling of childhood obesity.

Fresh Food in Schools is a project of The Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network and is funded by WSDA through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, the Washington Women’s Foundation, the Whatcom Community Foundation’s Sustainable Whatcom Farm 2 School Fund and private individual donations.

Joan Qazi is regional coordinator for the Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network.

USDA Unveils Historic Improvements to Meals Served in America's Schools

USDA Unveils Historic Improvements to Meals Served in America’s Schools

New Standards Will Improve the Health and Wellbeing of 32 Million Kids Nationwide

FAIRFAX, Va., Jan. 25. 2012 – First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled new standards for school meals that will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation. The new meal requirements will raise standards for the first time in more than fifteen years and improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day. The healthier meal requirements are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by the First Lady as part of her Let’s Move! campaign and signed into law by President Obama.

“As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “And when we’re putting in all that effort the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria. When we send our kids to school, we expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we try to keep them from eating at home. We want the food they get at school to be the same kind of food we would serve at our own kitchen tables.”

“Improving the quality of the school meals is a critical step in building a healthy future for our kids,” said Vilsack. “When it comes to our children, we must do everything possible to provide them the nutrition they need to be healthy, active and ready to face the future – today we take an important step towards that goal.”

The final standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, including:

  • Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week; • Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
  • Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
  • Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
  • Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.

A sample lunch menu with a before and after comparison is available to view and download in PDF and JPG formats.

USDA built the new rule around recommendations from a panel of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine —a gold standard for evidence-based health analysis. The standards were also updated with key changes from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – the Federal government’s benchmark for nutrition – and aimed to foster the kind of healthy changes at school that many parents are already trying to encourage at home, such as making sure that kids are offered both fruits and vegetables each day, more whole grains, and portion sizes and calorie counts designed to maintain a healthy weight.

USDA received an unprecedented 132,000 public comments on its proposed standards (available on the web at www.regulations.gov) – and made modifications to the proposed rule where appropriate. USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon said: “We know that robust public input is essential to developing successful standards and the final standards took a number of suggestions from stakeholders, school food service professions and parents to make important operational changes while maintaining nutritional integrity.”

The new standards are expected to cost $3.2 billion over the next five years -- less than half of the estimated cost of the proposed rule and are just one of five major components of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, now implemented or under development, that will work together to reform school nutrition. In addition to the updated meal standards, unprecedented improvements to come include:

  • The ability to take nutrition standards beyond the lunchline for the first time ever, foods and beverages sold in vending machines and other venues on school campuses will also contribute to a healthy diet;
  • Increased funding for schools – an additional 6 cents a meal is the first real increase in 30 years – tied to strong performance in serving improved meals;
  • Common-sense pricing standards for schools to ensure that revenues from non-Federal sources keep pace with the Federal commitment to healthy school meals and properly align with costs; and
  • Training and technical assistance to help schools achieve and monitor compliance.

The final nutrition standards released today also provide more time for schools to implement key changes, which will be largely phased in over a three-year period, starting in School Year 2012-2013. For example, schools will be permitted to focus on changes in the lunches in the first year, with most changes in breakfast phased in during future years.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Summer Food Service Program, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Together these programs make up the federal nutrition safety net.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Farm to School Mobile Tour gives taste of North Olympic Peninsula’s bounty

Farm to School Mobile Tour gives taste of North Olympic Peninsula’s bounty
Peninsula Daily News, Oct 23, 2011

A daylong event for food service directors and farmers on the North Olympic Peninsula, it featured hands-on training in the kitchen, field trips to local growers and, of course, lunch featuring local ingredients.

Food Safety News: Bridging the GAP: Bringing Big Food Safety Regulations to Small Farms

Bridging the GAP: Bringing Big Food Safety Regulations to Small Farms

Food Safety News, Oct 24, 2011

For large farming operations, food safety audits are commonplace. Most buyers require them before purchasing produce. However, small farms are rarely inspected by auditors, because the cost of implementing a safety plan can be too expensive.

That's where Bridging the GAPs - a program designed to help small and mid-sized growers find a way to meet food safety guidelines - comes in.

Organized by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), the initiative will allow modest-sized operations to reach broader markets such as schools, grocery stores and restaurants, most of which now require Good Agricultural Practices certification.

Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) is a set of protocols approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that farmers can follow to prove they're growing and harvesting in a way that minimizes the risk of crop contamination.

However, because these standards require extra time, equipment and sometimes land, they are often daunting or even prohibitive to small and mid-sized farmers.

At a farm in Bellingham, WA this month, farmers, state and local health officials and community members gathered to begin a dialogue on how to make GAPs easier for modest farms to swallow. The group toured Cedarville Farms, a family-operated, 7-acre organic farm, in order to get a first-hand look at the obstacles that stand between small farms and GAPs certification.

Monday, September 26, 2011

School Food Focus highlights the Farm-to-School efforts of Seattle Public Schools

With the help of strong partnerships, Wendy Weyer serves up fresh, new foods in Seattle Public Schools

“You never serve anything fresh, or anything from Washington!”

That’s the criticism Wendy Weyer, Interim Director of Nutrition Services at Seattle Public Schools (SPS), has heard from parents and members of the community many times before. Fortunately, they’re wrong: “We realized we had to toot our own horn a bit” when it came to local and regional sourcing of fresh fruits and vegetables, she says. “Now we make it very clear that we are thoughtful about this. As long as it’s financially possible and we can get the volume we need, we do serve a lot of fresh, Washington-grown food in our schools.”

Read more here.