Fort Benton Elementary School has been hosting “Cool Kids” assemblies at the end of each month for grades K-6, featuring events such as Fort Benton’s Got Talent, birthday celebrations, and Harvest of the Month Taste Tests! On Thursday, January 31, para-educator Mark Smith hosted a group of young taste testers on stage to blindly sample sweet and savory lentil dishes prepared by high school students to celebrate January’s Harvest of the Month: lentils! The dishes included lentil soup, lentil linguine, chocolate lentil bars, and spiced Indian lentil pudding.
Fort Benton Public Schools is located within the “Golden Triangle” of Montana, an agricultural hub for grains and pulse crops (e.g., peas, lentils, chickpeas.) Despite being surrounded by agriculture, schools in this area have struggled to locate vendors that will deliver local food products. Fort Benton is designated Remote (43) and is ideally situated within 45 miles of Great Falls, Montana’s third largest city, which is in the early stages of farm to table work.
These are just some of the reasons why Fort Benton has been selected to take part in the Montana Department of Agriculture, National Center for Appropriate Technology, and Montana Team Nutrition’s collaborative project to expand farm to school in Montana through increased utilization of state wide food distribution networks and directly building farm to school teams. This project provides ongoing training for farm to school stakeholders in Fort Benton, Malta, and Browning school districts; sharing best practices, meeting their individualized needs, and providing resources and materials.
Fort Benton Public Schools are a new Harvest of the Month site and since the start of this project, have built a team of individuals from the school and community to implement Harvest of the Month and farm to school. Support from Fort Benton’s small community of 1,400 has been resounding. The local paper, The River Press, has been featuring farm to school stories and Harvest of the Month recipes each month to champion Fort Benton’s farm to school goals.