Farm-to-school programs are good for Minn. farmers and students

December 3, 2018

Though Minnesota is considered a leader in farm-to-school, it has been slow to adopt policies that would provide better support and resources to school districts and farmers around the state who are trying to work together, advocates have been saying.

At Lyndale Elementary in South Minneapolis in late October, a crowd of well-dressed adults stood inside the cafeteria, waiting their turn to proceed through the lunch line. Two state legislators were among the crowd: Reps. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, who would go on to lose her seat in the November election, and Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, who held on to his.

With her voice raised to cut through the noise, Kate Seybold, farm-to-school coordinator for Minneapolis Public Schools, painted a picture of a school menu full of meats, grains and produce sourced from Minnesota farms. In 2017, the district spent $250,000 on 130,000 pounds of produce from 15 farms, as well as another $155,000 on local turkey and beef.

To get around the mismatch between the school year and farmers market season, Seybold explained, they buy a lot of root vegetables, including watermelon radishes, which made a colorful addition to the day’s options. “They do not taste like watermelon, as some of the students expected,” she said.