Montana Meal PlateIn Red Lodge, we celebrated National Farm to School Month with a delicious Montana Made Meal! The purpose of the meal is to source most of the ingredients from within Montana; in fact, much of the meal was sourced from within 50 miles of Red Lodge! Lunch included carrot sticks and pickled beets from Wholesome Foods in Bridger, beef from Stillwater Packing in Columbus, and pumpkin bars with pumpkin from Laurel Farmer’s Market. Food Service Director Amy Russell coordinated the incredible meal, and is known for regularly incorporating local food into school lunches — whether the ingredients are from local producers or fresh produce from the youth garden.

While students were excited to learn that the food they were eating was locally sourced, 60 years ago in Montana, eating locally was not such a novel idea. In 1950, 70% of food Montanans ate was grown and processed in Montana. Today, that number is 10%. Most of the food grown in Montana is exported, while Montanans eat food imported from elsewhere. Although Montana does have limited growing seasons, there is still so much food being produced here! For example, local produce and meat is abundant at the local farmer’s market in Red Lodge. My hope is that through FoodCorps, we can increase access to local food in school lunch rooms as well!

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Adults are not the only ones who think we should be eating locally — students do too. I recently spoke with a few high school agriculture classes on the importance of eating locally. According to the students, eating locally:

  • Boosts the local economy
  • Is good for the environment
  • Helps people better understand the work that goes into growing food

It is so exciting to see students, food service staff, teachers, school staff, and community members all on board with supporting local foods in our schools!

Beth Williams
About Beth Williams
Beth is motivated by a desire for a world where all families have access to resources for their children to grow up healthy. To that end, she has accompanied residents of low-income housing to the Washington state capitol. There, they shared their stories of homelessness and the importance of funding low income housing with their state representatives. This year, Beth serves with the Red Lodge Area Food Partnership Council to help families in Montana ensure that their children are eating healthy. She sees herself on this path in the long run, hoping to receive her masters degree in social work within the next ten years so that she can do effective community organizing work.