Eight early childcare centers across the state are participating in the new Montana Harvest of the Month program. Each month, participating early care and education centers, K-12 schools, and afterschool programs are showcasing one Montana grown or raised food by serving it in a meal or snack, offering taste tests to children, and doing educational activities.
The primary goals for this program are to expose children to new, healthy foods and to support Montana’s farmers and ranchers.
Northwest Montana Head Start in Kalispell and Columbia Falls began purchasing local foods by participating in the Harvest of the Month for Early Childcare and Education pilot. The Kalispell and Columbia Falls locations serve lunch to over 175 children daily and are committed to serving local foods on the menu despite their tight budget several times a month.This fall they purchased over $600 of Summer Squash, Apples, Kale and Winter Squash and plan to purchase more local foods this Spring. They purchase primarily from Western Montana Growers Coop and Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center and have shared they would like to explore purchasing directly from local farmers in the future. Abbie Barker, Health and Nutrition Manager, reported that Kale Month in November was a great success. The kids and parents loved the Kale chips and requested that they be served at for a parent meeting. The parents agreed that the Kale chips were delicious and double as an affordable, healthy snack.
If you want to learn more about how this Head Start has integrated local procurement into their food purchasing practices, come to the Montana Farm to School Summit on September 13 & 14 in Missoula!