School’s out for summer, but FoodCorps AmeriCorps Members are busier than ever, helping to grow healthy kids and communities across Montana.

Camille McGoven dishes up local beef and school garden
greens for the Boulder Summer Feeding Program.

At summer farm camp in Red Lodge, kids are–literally–singing the praises of beets. In Kalispell and Ronan, FoodCorps makes sure that summer doesn’t result in kids going hungry, supporting summer feeding programs with supplies of healthy, local food. In Missoula, nearly 300 community members recently enjoyed a school lunch, (for dinner!) through a fundraiser called Try the Tray. In Bozeman, Boulder and Billings, vibrant summer programs ensure that even while on break, students can still enjoy the peak of school garden bounty.

Altogether, since August 2012, Montana’s 10 service members have led hands-on gardening and nutrition education activities with 7,681 children. They’ve harvested over 2,312 pounds of produce for school and summer program meals, and incorporated 15,593 pounds of healthy, local foods into school lunch programs.

Students in Ennis prepare a tasty salad snack from
their school garden.

The students are loving it. During a smoothie lesson at Lowell Elementary in Missoula, one young student exclaimed, “If this class were a video game, this would be a bonus level!”

In September, we’ll welcome a new FoodCorps team to start another school year, and, just like the kids, we’ll be back in the classrooms, making every day–and every meal–an opportunity for eating healthy food and supporting Montana’s agriculture. Bonus level, indeed.

Lea Howe is the FoodCorps Fellow in Montana.