Students at nine Osceola County elementary schools will celebrate National Farm to School Month on October 31 by participating in the annual Florida Crunch. Students will learn about Florida agriculture and the benefits of consuming local fruits and vegetables. The schools that will be participating are Central Avenue Elementary, Highlands Elementary, Koa Elementary, Mill Creek Elementary, Pleasant Hill Elementary, St Cloud Elementary, Ventura Elementary, and Neptune Elementary. The event will include a taste test with students at lunch time in each of the participating cafeterias tasting tangerines from Conoley Citrus Packers – Winter Garden, Florida, during the big “1, 2, 3, CRUNCH!”
The Florida Crunch is held in partnership with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension Family Nutrition Program (FNP) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). “The Florida Crunch is a great example of how we are working to connect communities with healthy, local food options,” said Tiffany Torres, Food Systems Specialist with UF/IFAS Extension FNP. “Farm to school activities empower students to make informed decisions about their food while strengthening the local economy and building community relationships.”
Florida Crunch Day visitors will include Caitlyn Glatting-Food Systems Specialist UF/IFAS, Bionet Pineiro-Ramirez – Extension Program Manager-UF/IFAS and staff, Candice Roberson-Florida Department of Health, Dana Crupi –Osceola County Early Learning Coalition and School Health Advisory Council Chair, Deborah Brintley – Registered Dietitian with Osceola County Schools, and Amy Medina – Supervisor with Osceola County Schools to teach the students about the benefits of growing your own food. Produce samples for the students will be provided with support from the School District of Osceola County’s School Nutrition Services Department and US Foodservice, Port Orange.
National Farm to School Month occurs each October to highlight the importance of farm to school programs, such as school gardens, nutrition education, and the sourcing of local products for school lunches. These programs help to improve child nutrition, support local economies, and educate children about the origins of their food.