ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan has designated Oct. 4-8, 2021, as Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week. In its 14th year, this annual promotion encourages Maryland schools to serve local food in lunches to show students where their food comes from and to introduce them to fresh, nutritious products made right here in Maryland.
Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week is an element of the Maryland Farm to School Program, which is administered in partnership by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). 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.
According to the 2019 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Farm to School Census, Maryland schools spent over $19 million on local foods in School Year 2018-2019. More than 95% of Maryland schools serve local foods, and nearly 97% of Maryland schools participate in Farm to School activities such as nutrition education, taste testing, gardening and collaborating with local farmers. Maryland was also the first state in the nation to have every public school system participate in the Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week.
This year’s Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week falls during National Farm to School Month. Participating school systems are encouraged to use #MDHGSLW and #FarmToSchool when sharing social media posts.
Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder will join St. Mary’s County Public School (SMCPS) leaders at Greenview Knolls Elementary School in Great Mills on October 7 for a Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week event. The event will be packed full of agriculture education activities for students that are aimed at introducing them to the local agricultural and seafood bounty from St. Mary’s County and to the people who grow and harvest these products.
Guests will join students as they rotate through four outside stations with experiential activities focused on animal agriculture, nutrition, planting and farming, and sustainable fishing and oyster harvesting. Farmers from the area will be on hand to answer any questions. Staff from the U.S. Oyster Festival will be in attendance to teach kids about Maryland’s rich seafood history and how to tong for oysters. Other stations and activities are being held by University of Maryland Extension agents, who have been partners with SMCPS on Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week activities since 2008.
During lunch, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator Dr. Patty Bennett will join virtually to give thank you remarks to the SMCPS food service staff for their hard work. The school lunch for the day will feature pulled chicken and beef hot dogs from Hoffman’s Meats served with sweet potatoes from Beagle Hill Farms and roasted squash from the Loveville Produce Auction. Additionally, every student will get a slice of fresh watermelon.
Other school districts across the state will participate in Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week by providing students with locally-sourced school meals and educational materials. Highlights from other counties are listed below:
- Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery, Washington, and Wicomico County schools will be serving fresh fruits and vegetables from local producers in their school meals. View a complete list on MDA’s website.
- Carroll County Public Schools will feature a food truck that specializes in farm-to-truck, fresh eats on Oct. 7 at Ebb Valley Elementary School for breakfast and Manchester Valley High School for lunch. Every meal from the “Old McDonald had a Food Truck” includes at least one ingredient that comes from a Carroll County farm or small business and meets USDA’s nutritional requirements for school meals.
For educational materials, Harvest of the Month posters, produce seasonality charts, menus, places to find local products, a brief video soundbook with photos and interviews, plus much more for parents, teachers, and food service staff, please visit the Maryland Farm to School website.
Further details about Maryland’s school meals programs can be found on the Maryland State Department of Education’s website. More information on Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week can be found on MDA’s website. For questions or concerns, please contact MDA’s Karen Fedor at email@example.com or (410) 841-5773.