ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan has designated October 19-23 as Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week, an annual event that encourages students to learn about where their food comes from and all the fresh, local products Maryland producers have to offer.
“This year more than ever, local farms and school food services have been essential in keeping Maryland students fed and nourished,” said Governor Hogan. “Each year, Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week highlights the important connection our communities have to agriculture and healthy eating. I encourage our Maryland schools, students, and families to participate in Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week.”
“Many of today’s children are far removed from farming, believing that their fresh fruits and vegetables come from the supermarket rather than a farm,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week is a great opportunity to educate kids about how their food gets to their plates, the farmers that grow it, and the in-season products produced right here in Maryland. In a year where farmers and school nutrition staff have been working tirelessly to feed our students, it is especially important that we recognize their efforts.”
“Maryland schools are continuing to serve local foods in school meals, even during the ongoing pandemic,” said State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon. “This year, in celebration of Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week, we celebrate and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Maryland farmers, producers, and school nutrition staff.”
As of August 29, Maryland agencies had served over 24.3 million meals since school closures due to COVID-19, according to the Maryland State Department of Education’s (MSDE) Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs (OSCNP).
Before the pandemic, Maryland schools bought $18 million of local products annually for school meals and the state ranked ninth in the nation for money invested in local food, with the average school district spending 23% of their food budget on local products (USDA’s Farm to School Census). Maryland was also the first state in the nation to have every public school system participate in Maryland Homegrown School Lunch.
Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week 2020 falls during National Farm to School Month and Maryland Apple Month. This year marks the 13th anniversary of Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week and though it may look a little different than in years past, Maryland farmers, schools, students, and families can still participate in the following ways:
- Post a short video. Take a brief clip of yourself stating why Maryland Farm to School is important to you. Whether you’re a farmer, food service staff, teacher, parent, or student, talk about your connection to community food systems.
- Look out for in-season produce spotlights on social media. During Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week, both Maryland Farm to School and the MSDE’s OSCNP, will feature in-season, Maryland grown items on social media daily.
- School food service may highlight Maryland-grown ingredients.
- Use and promote educational materials, such as Harvest of the Month or the Maryland Seasonality Chart, to share information about locally grown, in-season products.
- Visit a Maryland Farm, Farmers Market, Farm Stand, or Garden.
- Agritourism. From corn mazes to pumpkin patches, many Maryland farms are up and running with their fall activities and have modified their operations this year to include COVID-19 prevention practices. Find a farm offering agritourism activities near you on MarylandsBest.net. Reminder to check social media or websites for health and safety protocols.
- Maryland Apple Month
- Apple Recipes. During Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week, Maryland Farm to School and the OSCNP will share simple, delicious apple recipes on social media that the whole family can enjoy. Recipes can also be viewed on the Maryland’s Best website. Find local apples for your recipe here. Share your creations on social media.
- Apple Picking. Maryland is home to 205 apple orchards and over 20 different varieties. Find local apples or visit a Maryland orchard near you.
- Eat Local. Families are encouraged to try in-season, local products during Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week. Some popular fall Maryland-grown items are:
- Apples, Winter Squashes, Greens, Pumpkins, Poultry, Eggs, Milk, Mushrooms, Kale, and Sweet Potatoes.
- Refer to the Maryland Seasonality Chart for other ideas of in-season fruits and vegetables.
- Use this map resource created by Maryland’s Best to find a Maryland farm stand, farmers market, or local seafood company selling local products directly to consumers.
Students At-Home Lessons and Activities:
- Watch Maryland Farm & Harvest. Maryland Public Television’s (MPT) Emmy-award winning series Maryland Farm & Harvest takes viewers around the state to see and experience what it’s like to run a modern farm. By using agriculture to teach biology, environmental science, technology, history, or other useful subjects, students can learn about how their food is produced. All seven seasons are available online on MPT’s website. For students, check out MPT’s pre-selected episodes here.
- Activities. The Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation (MAEF) offers a variety of at-home lessons and activities on their website.
- Virtual Farm Tours.
Due to COVID-19, most of this year’s Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week events have been canceled or altered. That is why we highly encourage participants to show us how they are celebrating via social media. Be sure to tag Maryland Farm to School (@MDFarm2School) and MSDE’s, Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs, (@MSDEnutrition) in your posts. Use the hashtags #MDHGSLW and #MDKidsEatLocal.
Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week is an element of the Maryland Farm to School Program. The Maryland Farm to School Program is administered in partnership by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland State Department of Education. The program aims to bring locally produced foods into schools, provide hands-on experiential learning to students, and integrate food-related education, while promoting the benefits of local, nutritious foods.
More information on Maryland Farm to School and Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week can be found on MDA’s website. More details on the school meals programs can be found on the Maryland State Department of Education’s website.
More in the video below.
This week encourages students to learn about where their food comes from and all the fresh, local products MD producers have to offer. More: https://t.co/9aRNNc4djP @MDFarm2School @MSDEnutrition pic.twitter.com/s9f2ehtMiY
— Maryland Agriculture (@MdAgDept) October 20, 2020