Katie Wheeler is a FoodCorps Service Member in Kalispell, MT. 

In August, the Kalispell School District Food Servicereally hit the ground running.  As a “welcome back” snack on the first day of school, we served up Flathead Cherries followed by Dixon Musk Melons for our six elementary schools participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).  For FFVP in September, we served cucumbers, Honey Orange melons, Sinful melons, and watermelon, all from the Western Montana Growers Co-op out of Arlee.
We have FFVP snacks three days a week and with each one I provide “snack facts” to all of our teachers that tell about where the fruit or vegetable was grown, nutritional information, and other interesting tidbits.  This has proven to be an easy and successful way to reach 2200 elementary school students with a little bit of nutrition and food education every week.  In fact, just today I received the below email from our food service staff member who distributes FFVP snacks at Edgerton Elementary:
We continue to source our beef patties from Lower Valley Processing in Kalispell and have begun sourcing half of our bread products from Wheat Montana.  With all of this and deliveries of hydroponic tomatoes and apples arriving weekly from Mountainview Gardens and Blue Bay Orchard, respectively, I am a very happy FoodCorps service member.  But what makes me the most joyful is our freezer!  It is chalk full of nearly 1500 pounds of frozen green beans, cubed and coined carrots, pitted cherries, shredded zucchini, and pumpkin puree, all processed at Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center in Ronan and ready to make their appearance in a handful dishes this month.  
My current favorite (and not-so-coincidentally, most local) dish of the year is the hummus plate we serve every Friday at Flathead High School.  We began using Red Crimson Lentils from Timeless Natural Food in the hummus and in September, we featured local broccoli, cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, melon, and celery on the plate!  I say ‘current’ favorite because it is soon to be overshadowed by the 100% local roasted root veggie medley that will be served at all 11 of our schools this month!
Our awesome food service staff member, Betsy, who is responsible for our delicious hummus plates!
Our October menu is loaded with dishes featuring local ingredients, in addition to the veggie medley, such as pumpkin soup and cake, pot pie, shepherd’s pie, steamed butternut squash, coleslaw, cherry cobbler, roasted spaghetti squash, chocolate chip zucchini cake, and lentil and barley soup!  And we didn’t forget about FFVP for October, which includes local pears, apples, plums, carrots, and beets!  

Our October menu for the elementary schools with the local items highlighted!
The Food Service Director, Jenny Montague, and I are so grateful to have a staff that is not only open to serving up healthier, local products, but also totally excited about it, even if it does sometimes mean a little extra work.  I get complaints when I don’t provide enough local veggies and that just couldn’t make me happier.