October is National Farm to School Month!
Since 2008, the Vernon County Farm to School Initiative has been working to improve southwest Wisonsins’s health, economy, and environment by bringing fresh, local foods to school lunches. We also bring food education into classrooms with new food tastings, farmer visits, and discussions about healthy food choices and what they do for us.
We’re expanding our reach beyond schools to share healthy eating ideas at home and in grocery stores. We believe every meal is a chance to learn about the delicious and healthy benefits of eating fresh foods from our farmer neighbors. That’s why we’re offering tools to help everyone get involved.
Watch for our featured Harvest of the Month foods in your local grocery store or food co-op, so you can nurture healthy eating habits at home. We’ll be offering free recipes, newsletters, school lunch menus, and other resources on this web site, so visit us often and click here to sign up for our emails.
Vernon County Farm to School was created by a coalition of citizen groups and individuals concerned about nutrition in school lunch, including Viroqua Area School District, Valley Stewardship Network, and Chef Monique Hooker. Today, the Coalition also includes Fifth Season Cooperative. We do it with the help of AmeriCorp Members, outstanding volunteers, and now with the added help of a Transform Wisconsin grant. Your support is needed to expand the full program into ALL Vernon County school districts, now and into the future. Click here to learn more about supporting the program.
The leading producer of sweet potatoes in the United States is North Carolina.
Sweet potatoes like long and hot summer months.
Download your December newsletter and free recipe here.
BETA-CAROTENE VITAMIN C VITAMIN A POTASSIUM FIBER
Sweet potatoes are native to Central America and are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. Christopher Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe after his first voyage to the New World in 1492. By the 16t century, they were brought to the Philippines, Africa, India, Indonesia and southern Asia by other explorers. Around this same time, sweet potatoes began to be cultivated in the southern United States, where they still remain popular today.
•Sweet potatoes come in around 400 different varieties which range in different colors of orange, yellow, white, cream, pink and purple. •The shape of the potato can vary between short and bulky, and long and tapered. •The Covington sweet potato is the most common type of sweet potato which has a pink-orange colored skin is orange on the inside.
•The rich orange color of sweet potatoes come from an antioxidant called beta-carotene which helps make Vitamin A in the body. This nutrient is important for vision, immune function, and skin and bone health. •Sweet potatoes contain other nutrients of potassium, Vitamin C, fiber, iron and they are low in fat.• Baking and boiling sweet potatoes are the healthiest way to prepare them.
Bergum’s Food Mart, County Market, Hansen’s IGA, Organic Valley Retail Store, Villiage Market, Viroqua Food Coop, Wal Mart, Whitaker’s Farm Fresh Market
The 5th Annual Harvest Challenge is happening on November 2nd, 2013.
It will be held at the Viroqua High School Gym from 6-8pm.
Doors will open for the silent auction at 5:30.
General admission $10, Students $3.
Hope to see you there.
The Harvest Challenge is a student cooking competition that highlights the need for more nutritious and locally grown school lunches, both to better nourish our youth and create stronger and healthier local rural economies.
The contest is open to high school students Vernon County. The contest challenges each team of students to develop a creative, appetizing and visually appealing school lunch entrée and side dish while incorporating locally grown foods. At the same time the entrée and side dish must comply with national nutritional guidelines and meet a budget of $0.90 per person per serving (entrée and side dish combined).
Each team has a chef mentor, from a local restaurant or kitchen, who will provide culinary lessons and inspiration for the students. Each team also has a team mentor from their high school, who will provide support and guidance throughout the entire Harvest Challenge process. Each team’s entrée and side dish must also be approved by their Food Service Director.
Participating teams will serve their healthy school lunches to a panel of judges, their peers and the public during the 5th Annual Award-winning Harvest Challenge Tasting Event. The winner of the competition will be announced at the event.
1st Place - Kickapoo (Spaghetti Tacos and Cabbage Salad with Roasted Corn Salsa)
2nd Place - De Soto (Pirate Pot Pie and Sweet Potato Slaw)
3rd Place - Viroqua (Viroqua Harvest Comfort Soup and Cranberry Apple Cornbread)
4th Place - La Farge (Barbeque Rub Pulled Pork and Apple Cranberry Coleslaw)
5th Place - Westby (Cranberry Meatballs with Cornbread and Roasted Vegetables)
Student Choice (all elementary, middle, and high school students attending the event cast their votes for):
1st Place: Westby High School
2nd Place: La Farge High School
3rd Place: De Soto High School
Community Choice (all adults attending the event cast their votes for):
1st Place: De Soto High School
2nd Place: Viroqua High School
3rd Place: La Farge High School
This event serves as the primary fundraiser for Vernon County Farm to School and could not be successful without the dedication of our high school teams, their mentors, our amazing volunteers, a supportive community and access to fresh, local foods! This event was attended by many Farm to School representatives from other counties in Wisconsin who hope to duplicate the Harvest Challenge concept in their own counties. Vernon County should be very proud of what has been accomplished here. Looking forward to next year!
Thanks to our wonderful Harvest Challenge sponsors:
Vernon County Farm To School is working to improve public health and access to nutritious foods, right here in southwestern Wisconsin. Now in our fifth year, we’re expanding our reach beyond schools to share healthy eating ideas with everyone in Vernon County. After all, some of the most important lessons happen before and after the school bells ring.
January 11, 2013 – Harvest Challenge Honored at State Capitol
October 22, 2012 – 2012 Harvest Challenge Winners Announced
October 11, 2012 – Vernon County Farm to School Website Goes Live
October 1, 2012 – Vernon County Farm to School Launches State Funded Outreach Campaign
An estimated 5.7 million students in 12,429 schools benefited from Farm to School during the 2011-2012 school year, and close to $13 million was spent on local products in schools. Learn more.
For school lunch Vernon County Farm to School encourages sourcing of foods produced in southwest Wisconsin, as much as possible. We do it because we live in a farming community and we believe in supporting our local economy.
Vernon County Farm to School is working to improve nutrition and food education in southwest Wisconsin schools including: De Soto Schools, Hillsboro Schools, Kickapoo Area Schools, La Farge Schools, Viroqua Area Schools, Westby Schools and more. Learn what the Vernon County Farm to School program is doing in your school and link to your school below.
Vernon County Farm to School serves many schools within the county, both public and private. Currently, districts affected by grant funding through Transform Wisconsin are listed here. We look forward to highlighting all Vernon County schools within the program in the near future! If you would like to add information about your school or district here, please contact the Vernon County Farm to School Project Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608.637.1540.
Many school districts, including some in Vernon County, no longer have the staff and equipment to store and prepare fresh foods and to teach students about the foods. Some schools have policies, contracts, and budgets that don’t allow for flexibility to source fresh, seasonal foods.
We’ve been fortunate to receive financial support to get started, but your help is needed. With your financial assistance we can help all Vernon County school districts in making the changes and getting the tools they need to participate in Farm to School, now and in the future. Here’s how you can help:
Your financial support helps us to work with area schools to get their programs started and growing. Donations to a Public School System for the benefit of a public purpose may be deductible as charitable contributions by the Donor. Click to donate now.
Our fund-raising activities and events are a great opportunity for your business to show its community pride. Contact Ashlee Gabrielson to learn more at email@example.com or 608-637-1539.
From class field trips to event support, Vernon County Farm to School often has need of extra hands. Contact Ashlee Gabrielson, Vernon County Farm to School Outreach Coordinator, to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-637-1539.