Profile of the Week: Montana Harvest of the Month

The Montana Harvest of the Month (HOM) program showcases Montana grown foods in Montana schools, institutions, and communities. Each month, participating programs focus on promoting one locally grown item (e.g., winter squash) by serving it in at least one meal while displaying promotional and educational HOM materials.

HOM is a perfect way to launch or grow a farm to school or farm to cafeteria program as it provides an easy framework to follow and ready-to use materials. The program is free and participating sites will receive a packet of materials (includes posters and educational handouts) as well as guides, additional resources, and training. The program is open to K-12 schools, early care & education centers, healthcare centers, and is currently being piloted in grocery stores and food-banks.

Participants include: Staff members, patients, students, family members, and other members of the community such as farmers and ranchers. Food businesses, MSU Extension Agents, and nonprofit organizations can all be involved as well.

HOM Poster Example

 

  • Key factors that make HOM a success:
    • Support from the staff and community.
    • Effective partnerships between food service and local farms, processors, distributors, and other food businesses.
    • The Harvest of the Month Portal contains webinars, guides, and additional resources such as recipes, food fact sheets, and customizable language for program promotion.
    • NCAT’s Producer Database contains information about Montana food producers, processors, and distributors who are interested in selling to institutions. Here you can find info like product type, volume availability, distribution capacity, and more.
    • Farm to Cafeteria Manual for Montana, a how-to guide for farmers, ranchers, food service directors, and community leaders.

 

Success stories from a few of those who have worked with Montana Harvest of the Month:

HOM Recipe Card Example

“We are continuously looking for farmers, growers, and people locally that can produce [food from parts of Montana that we recognize]. It’s more nutrient-dense and allows us to provide better quality products to our patients, community, and co-workers.” – Kalispell Regional Medical Center, “A Culture of Health: Farm to Hospital in Montana”

“What we’ve found successful is the value-added fruits and vegetables that we work with Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center to create. These are fruits and vegetables we get in season that are processed fresh and cut to specification to the institution’s needs. We store them frozen and then can deliver them year-round.” – Dave Prather (Western Montana Growers Coop), “A Culture of Health: Farm to Hospital in Montana”

“The Western Montana Growers Coop’s ability to get our products into institutions is so far beyond what we are able to do as individual farms. We have better selling power and we have a better ability to amass large quantities that institutions need at a reasonable price.” – Brian Wirak (Harlequin Produce), “A Culture of Health: Farm to Hospital in Montana”

“We know where this money is going. We know that we’re supporting the people within this state. […] The vision for farm to hospital is as simple as it could possibly be.”– Kalispell Regional Medical Center, “A Culture of Health: Farm to Hospital in Montana”

Partner Organizations:

Office of Public Instruction
Montana Team Nutrition
The National Center for Appropriate Technology
Montana State University Extension
Gallatin Valley Farm to School
FoodCorps Montana.

Current Funding Sources:

USDA Team Nutrition Training Grant 2016
USDA Team Nutrition Training Grant 2017
Specialty Crop Block Grant 2017
Specialty Crop Block Grant 2018
Montana Pulse Crop Committee Grant
Dairy MAX
Local Food Promotion Grant
Wheat and Barley Committee Mini-Grant
Montana Grains Foundation

For more information, visit the Montana Harvest of the Month website here: http://www.montana.edu/mtharvestofthemonth/

 

Posted in Community Gardens/Youth Nutrition, Healthy Eating, Programs, Statewide.