Now that autumn is here, school is in full swing and leaves are turning colors across our beautiful state. Here at NCAT’s Farm to Cafeteria Network, we are looking forward to celebrating the changing season by promoting National Farm to School Month throughout October. And it’s not just schools that will be featuring healthy, local food this month: we’re inviting everyone to join in the fun by participating in Montana Crunch Time on October 24, 2014. Individuals from schools, businesses, hospitals, colleges, and more will be biting into a locally-grown apple at 2:00 p.m. sharp– it will be one loud crunch!
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One, Two, Three, CRUNCH!

Montana Crunch Time debuted last October as a way to support Farm to School initiatives in Montana. On October 24, 2013, approximately 11,000 kids around the state crunched into a locally or regionally-grown apple at 2:00 p.m. on the dot. Some schools held an assembly and all crunched together, while other students bit into apples in their classroom after the principal led a countdown on the intercom. The event’s organizers, the Montana Office of Public Instruction, MT Team Nutrition, NCAT, and others, are hoping to increase the number of participants of Crunch Time by expanding the scope to include any Montanan, not just students. This event is a great way to introduce local products into your school or institution, as well as educate people about the importance of healthy eating.

Join the Crunch

There are many ways to build hype and get attention for your Crunch Time event. Why not have someone dress up as an apple to lead the school-wide crunch, as Erin Jackson did at Hyalite Elementary in Bozeman last year? Or bring in a cider press for a cider demonstration in the cafeteria, as Andi Giddings did in Butte. Visit opi.mt.gov/Farm2School to read about these two Crunch Time activities and get ideas for other ways to engage your community, such as inviting a city representative to join students at Crunch Time, or inviting an apple grower to come to your school to talk about their agriculture business.

There are so many ways to get kids and adults excited about their apple snack in the weeks leading up to the collective crunch on October 24th. Check out lessons for students of all ages at opi.mt.gov/Farm2School. You can also access resources there about how to find local apples for Crunch Time. Your local farmer’s market or health food store is one place to check, or you can go to NCAT’s Farm to Cafeteria Network database to search for nearby orchards. Some of the orchards have “u-pick” options, so it would be a great opportunity to take your family or class on a farm field trip this month.
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Register Your Event

Be sure to register your Crunch Time event at opi.mt.gov/Farm2School. Once registered, you will receive a guide for hosting a Montana Crunch Time event with all the inspiration and resources you need. While everyone is crunching, be sure to collect a “crunch byte” (video, photos, or audio) and share your crunch by tagging with #MontanaCrunchTime on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.