BOISE Idaho (News Release) – The Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s Idaho Preferred Program will celebrate statewide Farm to School Month in October as part of the National Farm to School Month.

The initiative seeks to feature the ways farm-to-school efforts can improve child nutrition, support local economies and educate children about the origins of food.

The 2016 National Farm to School Month theme, One Small Step, highlights the simple things anyone can do to get informed, get involved and take action to advance the initiative in schools and communities.

To assist schools in making the most out of farm-to-school opportunities, Idaho Preferred will provide such resources as suggested menu applications, classroom posters, teacher curriculum and fun physical activities that advance a food theme. These weekly themes also represent some of Idaho’s major agricultural industries – including dairy, potatoes, apples and trout – and focus on easily accessible local foods.

The official start to Idaho’s Farm to School Month occurred this past Monday, Oct. 3 at Whittier Elementary School in Boise. During lunch, the school added fresh Idaho apples and vegetables to its salad bar.

“Celebrating National Farm to School Month is just one more element of our very active Idaho Farm to School program” said Leah Clark, Idaho’s lead for the National Farm to School Network and manager of ISDA’s Idaho Preferred program.

“Our Idaho Farm to School program is a great collaboration between the Idaho’s departments of Agriculture and Education, Idaho Ag in the Classroom and, most importantly, our school nutrition professionals. And, it is paying off.

“The most recent USDA Farm to School Census shows that 45 percent of Idaho schools, or 55 districts with over 107,700 students, are serving local foods. In 2015, more than $4.2 million was spent by Idaho schools on locally produced foods.”