- Category: Blog
- Published: Saturday, 20 October 2018 12:03
- Written by Jack Wilbur
- Hits: 609
3-2-1 crunch! At approximately 10:20 am on Oct. 17, 2018 it is estimated that more than 100,000 Utah children and adults bit into an apple at the same time. If the old adage is true a lot of doctors were able to take the day off. The simultaneous Apple Crunch, as it was called was organized by the Utah State Board of Education (USBE), with assistance from the Utah Department of Health and UDAF as a fun way to celebrate National Farm to School Month. However, the fun activity underscores a more serious issue that state legislative, school, health and agriculture officials want to address: the lack of local food in Utah schools.
"We don't do a lot of farm to school in Utah schools right now," said Kate Wheeler, child nutrition and farm to school specialist, USBE. There are several reasons for the lack of local farm fresh food in local schools, including cost and procurement system issues. While the challenges are great, the Utah Farm to Fork Task Force, organized by USBE, the Local Food Advisory Council, led by Rep. Stephen Handy (R-Layton) and Sen. Gene Davis (D-Salt Lake City), the Utah Farm Bureau, and the Utah's Own program at UDAF are all working on creative solutions to increase the amount of local food in schools. "It's something we like to call a triple win. Kids win, farmers win and communities win. So kids get access to really nutritious food, combined with agriculture education it makes them more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.," Wheeler added.
USBE tracked purchases of apples by schools and daycare facilities for the Apple Crunch Day and estimates about $30,000 was spent on local Utah apples for the day. Imagine if all those schools were buying apples, other produce, meat, dairy and other Utah foods daily. It would be a great financial benefit to local farms and the Utah economy.
"it's one of the top issues we are looking to address in the Local Food Advisory Council," said Rep. Handy. He took a few minutes out of his busy day during monthly Interim Committee meetings to join 85 kindergarten students who descended on the Capitol Rotunda to eat and learn about apples. After the crunch the children got to participate in farm themed activities, and, of course, finish eating those yummy apples supplied by Mountainland Apples.