Montana Rural Health Initiative

Gallatin Valley Farm to School

Gallatin Valley F2S

Gallatin Valley Farm to School (GVF2S) was started in February 2007 by a Steering Committee of committed and concerned parents and community members.

Today GVF2S is a collaboration between many diverse organizations, such as parent councils of various schools in the area, Bozeman School District Food Service, Montana Outdoor Science School, The Community Food Co-op, , Montana State University, and Grow Montana’s FoodCorps VISTA program. Gallatin Valley Farm to School is a local nonprofit organization.

Farm to school programming has emerged as an important avenue through which to effectively address both food available in the school environment and healthy eating behaviors. Research has shown improved participation in school meals as a result of Farm to School programming along with improved student knowledge relative to identifying certain foods, the source of their food and attitudes toward trying new, healthy food items.

A significant need for Farm to School programming exists throughout Montana. Farm to school programming is a proven avenue for connecting local food producers to the schools in their communities. The benefits of these relationships are numerous and include improved access to fresh, nutritious foods for school children, increased understanding and appreciation for agriculture among these students and their families, and improved economic viability for local food producers.

School fundraising activities have been recognized as an important food access point in the school environment. In fact, school wellness policies often target fundraising specifically as an important area of intervention when addressing food available at school. With Montana being a largely agricultural state, many creative and wholesome food products are produced right here. Exposing students and their families to these Montana-made healthy food items through a Made-in-Montana school fundraising project served to 1)benefit the school organizations through the raising of needed funds, 2) benefit the Montana food producer by gaining increased exposure for their products and 3) improve the overall school nutrition environment.

In 2010, the fundraiser was offered at six schools: Morning Star, Gallatin Gateway, Irving, Whittier, Hawthorne and Longfellow. This fundraiser is perfect opportunity to snag Made in Montana holiday gifts for friends and family with a spread of roasted cereals and granola, specialty lentils and barley, fresh herbed delicacies, huckleberry preserves, syrups and honey, fresh winter produce, and greeting cards featuring beautiful locally grown produce.

In honor of the first National Farm to School Month,  October 2011, Gallatin Valley Farm to School has put together a resource to help educators celebrate this event as well as tie in with the Harvest Montana Fundraiser which several schools and groups are participating in this month. This toolkit includes resources available through GVF2S as well as suggested short videos, films, books, and more!

The toolkit can be accessed online at: http://gvf2s.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/f2s-monthhmf-education-toolkit.pdf

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