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Published August 30, 2010, 06:37 PM

Farm2School Program Brings Locally Grown Food to Crookston Schools

A local Minnesota school is adopting a national food program to help get fresh foods back in their schools.

By: Brady Mallory, WDAZ

A local Minnesota school is adopting a national food program to help get fresh foods back in their schools.

The Farm2School program emphasizes using locally grown or made foods, rather than relying on a national distributor.

"Tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes..it's fresh things for children to eat," said Ann Riedlinger, Food Services Director for Crookston Schools.

A national program wants to make these fresh foods more accessible in schools by supporting local farmers in Crookston and neighboring communities.

"We're in the beginning steps here in Crookston," said Riedlinger.

The Farm2School program uses locally grown or made foods. Through a task force from the Minnesota School Foods Association, Riedlinger saw the Farm2School program being used in hundreds of schools in Minnesota.

Nationally it has been adopted by 40 states bringing nutrition into the lunchroom.

"It all ties in with the obesity issue of getting children to eat healthier foods. They feel children will eat the fresh grown things rather than from a distributor," Riedlinger said.

Fresh foods like tomatoes and other vegetables are not only nutritional, but according to the Crookston High School Family and Consumer Science teacher, they are also educational."

"Education is beyond just the nutrition and the eating of the food," said Jean Tester.

Tester said eating fresh fruits and vegetables will help students move away from processed foods. They learn good things to eat do not just appear in brightly colored bags.

"I'm seeing the elementary teachers being able to take the kids out to see where it grows and how it grows so students taste more good foods," said Tester.

Tester believes the program will help students learn more about cooking, canning and preserving food. Skills lost as more schools rely on large distributors for pre-prepared meals.

Kitchen staff are working out how to prepare everything during the school day, but Riedlinger won't let time constraints hold her back.

" There's nothing! I'm willing to try anything that comes in. I've been researching recipes and so forth!"