ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Governor Wes Moore has declared September 25-29, 2023 as Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week. Now in its 16th year, this promotion encourages Maryland schools to serve local food in lunches to show students where their food comes from and to introduce them to fresh, nutritious products made right here in Maryland.
Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week is an element of the Maryland Farm to School Program, which is administered by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and Maryland State Department of Education. The program aims to bring locally-produced foods into schools, provide hands-on experiential learning to students, and integrate food-related education, while promoting the benefits of local, nutritious foods.
School districts across the state will participate in Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week by providing students with locally-sourced school meals and educational materials. Activities include:
- Frederick County Public County Schools: Frederick County grown produce will be served in all schools including apples, pears and cherry tomatoes from Moon Valley and apples, pears and peaches from Catoctin Mountain Orchards.
- Caroline County Public Schools: Caroline County grown produce will be served in all schools. Farms featured include: TJ Farms, Blades Orchards, Red Acres Hydroponics and Clayton Farm. Produce offered will include cantaloupe, watermelon and sweet corn. Students will also have the opportunity to taste Maryland crab soup and Blue catfish bites.
- Carroll County Public Schools: Carroll County grown produce will be served in all schools. Farms featured include Willet Family Farms, Deep Run Farms, Baugher’s Orchards & Farms and Dairy Maid Dairy. Produce offered will include sweet corn, potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, sweet peppers, watermelon and apples. Several schools will also have student and cafeteria staff’s favorite activities – corn husking on the playground!
- St. Mary’s County Public Schools: Several farm-to-school events will be held throughout the county. George Washington Carver Elementary School will be holding their event on October 6 from 8:30 am- 2:30 pm and Chesapeake Public Charter School’s event will be held on October 11 from 9 am – 3 pm. Activities at both schools will include outdoor activities in stations, classroom activities and books.
- Somerset County Public Schools: Activities will be held on Tuesday, September 26 at Princess Anne Elementary and will feature a taste-testing of locally-grown callaloo in a new Tropical Somerset Salad.
- Washington County Public School’s Food and nutrition services staff will host a farm-themed cafeteria decorating contest. Lunch will be provided to the winners! The school system will also serve local produce in all schools. Farms featured included District Farms, Edgemont Orchards and Rinehart Orchards. Produce served will include bibb lettuce, Shenandoah pears and apples.
This year’s Homegrown School Lunch Week celebration will be held on Friday, September 29 at Cherokee Lane Elementary School in Prince George’s County. Planned activities for the event include students attending an assembly during which agriculture and education officials will discuss the connection between farms, food and nutrition, and activities in which students can participate and learn about locally grown food.
Students will have the opportunity to sample locally-grown produce during a taste test, featuring fresh-cut cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and a watermelon smoothie. The locally grown produce is sourced from Miller Farms in Clinton.
Other activities at the taste testing include a display of locally grown produce from Bowie Produce. The University of Maryland Extension-Maryland SNAP-Ed activities include a bilingual handout of Watermelon Smoothie recipe, games for students with incentives including fruit and vegetable inspired bookmarks, and a bilingual fall produce brochure. Additionally a school wide “Read for Health” read aloud book with Pre-K-Grade 2 of I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato. Grades 3-5 will experience the debut of Maryland SNAP-Ed’s Exploring Maryland Food, a Farm to School Curriculum, which explores how Maryland foods are grown and harvested.
For educational materials, Harvest of the Month posters, produce seasonality charts, menus, places to find local products, a brief video soundbook with photos and interviews, plus much more for parents, teachers, and food service staff, please visit the Maryland Farm to School website.
According to the 2019 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Census, Maryland schools spent more than $19 million on local foods in School Year 2018-2019. More than 95% of Maryland schools serve local foods, and nearly 97% of Maryland schools participate in farm-to-school activities such as nutrition education, taste testing, gardening and collaborating with local farmers. Maryland was also the first state in the nation to have every public school system participate in the Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week.
More details about Maryland’s school meals programs can be found on the Maryland State Department of Education’s website. More information on Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week can be found on MDA’s website. For questions or concerns, please contact MDA’s Karen Fedor at email@example.com or (410) 841-5773.