Farm to School Campaign Kicked Off at Brubaker

The Iowa Department of Agriculture kicked off a homegrown apple initiative at Brubaker Elementary School.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture kicked off a homegrown apple initiative at Brubaker Elementary School.

Apples and schools go way back.

A stands for lots of things but in alphabetic training for youngsters the traditional citation is APPLE.

And a longstanding gesture of appreciation to a teacher by a grateful student has been to bring them an apple. Consequently, ingratiation in a wide variety of contexts is known as “apple-polishing.”

So when the Iowa Department of Agriculture wanted to launch a campaign this fall to draw attention to its Farm to School nutritional program it was the perfect frame of reference, as well as the perfect time of year, to call it A is for Apple.

Forty schools in 17 districts around the state participated and each of them received funds to buy locally grown apples and classroom supplies to teach students about the value of eating well and supporting local farmers.

But only one was selected to receive a visit by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and a school-wide sampling of produce grown by Iowa Choice Harvest: Brubaker Elementary. Second grade teacher Brandi Van Horn’s was drawn from the batch of applications so today everybody at Brubaker got a tasty, seasonal dessert to go along with the rest of their healthy lunch.

“All I did was fill out the application and submit it. I went to a local orchard and picked out different kinds of apples for my class to try,” Van Horn said Monday in the school cafeteria. “I took pictures of them and submitted the pictures, too. From my understanding it was just a random win. I am very lucky that it is my school that won – I never win anything.”

Until now.

Funds could also be used to purchase frozen apples that can be eaten anytime during the year.  Iowa Choice Harvest is a 100% Iowa-owned company that flash-freezes and packages 100% fresh, Iowa-grown produce as soon as it’s harvested without the use of added sodium or sugars.  They offer 21 different varieties of apples packaged in slices.

Presentation is everything in the food biz. According to DMPS Director of Food & Nutrition Management Sandy Huisman, district foodservice staff noticed that whole apples are more likely to be discarded than sliced ones like the Brubaker kids were served today. And no wonder. In the early grades where lots of teeth are loose or missing an apple can be a tough proposition unless it’s been portioned.

There were lots of gap-toothed grins around the cafeteria tables on Monday that appreciated the serving compromise that was much closer to fresh-picked than it was to processed applesauce.

“Exposing students to the fresh, nutritious and delicious foods we grow here in Iowa can help create positive lifelong eating habits for these students,” commented Sec. Northey.  “I appreciate teachers incorporating locally grown food into their classroom and I’m excited to join the students at Brubaker for this event and see how they enjoy the fresh, Iowa grown apples.”

Participating schools also received classroom supplies such as books, cookbooks or apple corers as part of the latest example of an ongoing effort by DMPS to forge relationships with local food producers and make school menus more appealing and nutritional at the same time.

“We’ve been working with the Farm to School program for several years now,” said Huisman. “Since we serve over 20,000 meals each day it can be challenging to provide the necessary amount of fresh produce but vendors like Iowa Choice who flash-freeze the day fruits and vegetables are picked are giving us more and more options in support of our fight to teach kids about healthy eating habits and combat childhood obesity.”

Nowadays if a kid wants to please the teacher they can just keep that apple and eat it themselves for a snack.

That and studying those same old ABC’s. Some things never change.

To learn more about the Iowa Farm to School program and other initiatives, click here.

Photos of Apple Event at Brubaker Elementary

A is For Apple – DMPS-TV News

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