Students at the Tallahassee School of Math and Science (TSMS) celebrated National Farm to School Month on Oct. 25 by participating in the Second Annual Florida Cucumber Crunch. The event provided K-8 students with fresh, Florida-grown cucumbers in the cafeteria. National Farm to School Month, which takes place in October each year, highlights the growing importance of farm to school programs such as school gardens and the sourcing of local products for school lunch programs. These farm to school programs improve child nutrition, support local economies and educate children about the origins of their food.
The Cucumber Crunch event was held in partnership with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program (FNP), and Chef Paula Kendrick with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with UF/IFAS, FNP, and FDACS in showcasing October as National Farm to School Month,” said Ahmet Temel, principal of TSMS. “TSMS embodies the farm to school initiative through programs such as our school garden, which gives students a first-hand look at the benefits of locally-sourced vegetables.”
The TSMS vegetable garden was established in 2016 as a way to teach students about gardening and nutrition in a hands-on setting, in addition to fostering relationships among students, staff and families. TSMS received a 2017 “Golden Shovel” Award from FDACS in recognition of their outstanding school garden efforts.
“The Cucumber Crunch event is a great example of how we are working to connect communities with healthy, local food options,” said Tiffany Torres, Food Systems Specialist with UF/IFAS Extension FNP. “Farm to school activities empower students to make informed decisions about their food while strengthening the local economy and building community relationships.”
Prior to Crunch Day, students were visited by local farmers from Ripe City Urban Farm and Play of Sunlight Mushrooms to learn about the benefits of growing your own food. With support from the SLA Management kitchen staff, each student was provided with Florida-grown cucumber slices as a component of their National School Lunch Program meal. On Crunch Day, Chef Paula Kendrick taught students to be “good tasters” by trying new fruits and vegetables and being open to new experiences. The event coalesced with all students in the cafeteria tasting their cucumber slices simultaneously during the big “1, 2, 3, CRUNCH!”
For more information and resources on National Farm to School Month, visit www.FarmtoSchool.org.