In celebration of National Farm to School Month in October, states throughout the Mountain Plains Region (Colorado, Montana, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming) are competing to see which state can get the most “crunches” into a local apple or other local produce, per capita.
South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension and the South Dakota Department of Education’s Division of Child and Adult Nutrition Services are partnering to bring this event to the state Oct. 4-8. During that week, South Dakotans are invited to crunch into local produce and help South Dakota win the “Crunch Crown.” “Crunch Off” participants will join students, teachers, farmers, parents, community members and local food enthusiasts in celebrating the wonderful produce South Dakota has to offer.
There are a couple of ways to participate:
- Host a Crunch Off event. Schools, preschools, day care organizations, offices, families and farms are examples of groups that may be interested in hosting a Crunch Off event. Upon registration, hosts will receive examples of activities to make the crunch engaging and educational for pre-K through high school participants. Hosts can create their event to suit their group, ranging in simply biting into local produce to hosting an assembly with guest speakers. Each Crunch Off event is responsible for finding and supplying local crunchable produce. Resources are available to help connect those interested with area growers.
- Sell or donate produce to a Crunch Off event. Have a farm or garden with crunchable produce? Consider reaching out to area schools and care centers to sell or donate to their crunch event. Producers may also attend crunch events to educate participants about the farming that went into bringing them the product.
Whether selling or donating produce or hosting a Crunch Off Event, participants will be encouraged to share their Crunch Off photos and videos on social media, using the hashtags #MountainPlainsCrunch and #SouthDakotaCrunch.
“Serving local foods as part of farm to school programs has been shown to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among students,” says Anna Barr, SDSU Extension Farm to School Nutrition Field Specialist and Registered Dietitian. “Getting youth excited about fruits and vegetables sets them up for a healthy future. Also purchasing local foods stimulates the local economy and supports area growers, and it’s health-promoting for all ages to pause and appreciate a piece of local produce.”
Crunchable local produce that can be used for these events includes apples, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, pole beans (green beans or snap beans) and peas (snap or snow).