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Farm to Summer: Summer Meals Programs Get Under Way

Contributed by Sami Burington, Minnesota Department of Education

Students and staff at Nay Ah Shing schools in front of their gardens
Summer is a time of agricultural abundance! Almost half of Minnesota sponsors offering USDA’s Summer Meals Programs are capitalizing on the many opportunities that summer brings to serve fresh, local foods and hands-on activities that help children develop healthy habits.

Students at the Nay Ah Shing schools on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe reservation start their seeds for their garden indoors during the school year. All students (early education through high school) are involved in the planting process. The plants are then transplanted into the schoolyard garden just before the end of the school year.

Summer camp programming includes a gardening class where students learn how to tend to their garden–weeding and watering all summer long. During the course of the summer, produce is used from the gardens in the summer feeding program as well as the salad bar once school begins in the fall. This summer the garden is expanding so there will be even more of a bounty!

Check out this USDA resource on summer meals programs: Farm to Summer: Why Summer Meals Programs are Ripe for Local Foods and Agriculture-Based Activities

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