FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Jason Schellhardt, 410-841-5888
Samantha Bader, MSDE, 410-767-0513
Beverly Dahlstrom, SMCPS, 301-475-5511 ext. 32133
ANNAPOLIS, MD (Oct. 4, 2021) – Governor Larry Hogan has designated Oct. 4-8, 2021, as Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week. In its 14th year, this annual 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 in partnership by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). 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.
According to the 2019 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Farm to School Census, Maryland schools spent over $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.
This year’s Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week falls during National Farm to School Month. Participating school systems are encouraged to use #MDHGSLW and #FarmToSchool when sharing social media posts.
Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder will join St. Mary’s County Public School (SMCPS) leaders at Greenview Knolls Elementary School in Great Mills on October 7 for a Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week event. The event will be packed full of agriculture education activities for students that are aimed at introducing them to the local agricultural and seafood bounty from St. Mary’s County and to the people who grow and harvest these products.
Guests will join students as they rotate through four outside stations with experiential activities focused on animal agriculture, nutrition, planting and farming, and sustainable fishing and oyster harvesting. Farmers from the area will be on hand to answer any questions. Staff from the U.S. Oyster Festival will be in attendance to teach kids about Maryland’s rich seafood history and how to tong for oysters. Other stations and activities are being held by University of Maryland Extension agents, who have been partners with SMCPS on Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week activities since 2008.
During lunch, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator Dr. Patty Bennett will join virtually to give thank you remarks to the SMCPS food service staff for their hard work. The school lunch for the day will feature pulled chicken and beef hot dogs from Hoffman’s Meats served with sweet potatoes from Beagle Hill Farms and roasted squash from the Loveville Produce Auction. Additionally, every student will get a slice of fresh watermelon.
Other school districts across the state will participate in Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week by providing students with locally-sourced school meals and educational materials. Highlights from other counties are listed below:
Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery, Washington, and Wicomico County schools will be serving fresh fruits and vegetables from local producers in their school meals. View a complete list on MDA’s website.
Carroll County Public Schools will feature a food truck that specializes in farm-to-truck, fresh eats on Oct. 7 at Ebb Valley Elementary School for breakfast and Manchester Valley High School for lunch. Every meal from the "Old McDonald had a Food Truck" includes at least one ingredient that comes from a Carroll County farm or small business and meets USDA’s nutritional requirements for school meals.
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.
Further 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.
Photos from the Greenview Knolls Elementary School event will be available on MDA’s Flickr.
Governor Larry Hogan
“Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week is a great opportunity to remind kids how their food gets to their plates and their pantries. Educating the next generation about Maryland agriculture, farming, seafood, and nutrition, will strengthen our local food systems that are essential to our communities. Thank you to all the Maryland schools who are offering ag education activities and serving Maryland-grown or harvested foods this week.”
Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder
"The Maryland Farm to School Program is tremendously beneficial to all parties involved. Farmers prosper by selling products to a stable market, schools benefit from access to fresh and high quality produce, and students are able to eat healthy, nutritious meals. Every year, Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week shows students how their food is made and who got it there. Establishing the importance of healthy eating and agriculture now, will help kids make better decisions in the future."
Maryland State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury
"Maryland invests more than $19.8 million annually in Farm to School initiatives, which source local, healthy foods for school meals that help fuel overall student success and achievement. Our schools provide expansive agricultural education opportunities, including growing school gardens, hosting local foods taste testing, and partnering with local farmers," said State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudury. "Homegrown School Lunch Week is a celebration of the commitment and dedication of Maryland schools and school nutrition professionals in order to provide healthy choices for Maryland students."
Scott Smith, St. Mary’s County Public Schools, Superintendent
“St. Mary's County Public Schools is proud to showcase our partnership with our community for Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week. We are excited to highlight the home-grown, healthy foods for our students that come directly from our local farms and agriculture community.”
Ben Beale, University of Maryland Extension, Extension Agent
“University of Maryland Extension is proud to celebrate our farmers and the county’s rich agricultural heritage through the Maryland Farm to School Program. Farm to School provides a great platform to educate children on the importance of farming, where our food comes from, and nutritious eating. We look forward to working with St. Mary’s County farmers and other agricultural organizations to bring a part of our local farms to our schools.”
Janet Fowler, Greenview Knolls Elementary School, Principal
“The Greenview Knolls Elementary staff and students are delighted to host this year's Maryland Home Grown School Lunch Week celebration. This event gives our students first-hand knowledge about a day in the life of a farmer. Our Food Service team and local farmers are making connections to help our Greenview Knolls Elementary families eat healthier.”
Megan Doran, St. Mary’s County Public Schools, Food & Nutrition Services Director
“We love highlighting our local farmers and bringing awareness to the incredible resources we have in St. Mary's County. Our team strongly believes in keeping our farmers farming and our children eating nutritious, local produce. We are fortunate to have the Loveville Produce Auction in our county, which affords us the opportunity to hand-select the produce that we are serving in our schools. Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week is a highlight for our school year and we look forward to the opportunity to educate our student community.”
Delegate Brian Crosby, St. Mary’s County
“I am very proud of the partnership St. Mary’s County Public Schools has formed with our county's farms in this effort to showcase locally-grown, healthy foods. Giving students the opportunity to eat local produce at school is an example of the power of true community building, and it will make a lasting impact on these lucky students.”