C-r-u-n-c-h-! Every year in October, the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch celebrates National Farm to School Month by asking everyone to crunch into locally grown apples at noon. The Great Apple Crunch is a fun and engaging event to promote our region’s apple orchards, celebrate healthy eating, and connect rural and urban communities together. Their mission is to support farm to cafeteria efforts. This year’s Great Apple Crunch is on Thursday, October 11, 2018.
Agencies and organizations throughout the region of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio participate in the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch. Last year 1,543,781 people of all ages across the region crunched on locally grown apples! Participants are invited to help reach the goal of 1.7 MILLION CRUNCHES this year!
Sign up your school, early care center, workplace, or organization by 4 pm on Friday, September 29, to receive Crunch stickers and the updated 2018 Crunch Guide. Register here and check our the Crunch Facebook page!
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Head Start program is a new addition to re:TH!NK’s Healthy Food and Beverages team and has quickly become an invaluable contributor and partner in extending Farm to Early Care efforts to Winnebago County families, especially those of vulnerable populations. Staff at Head Start are passionate about bringing healthy foods and teaching healthy habits to not only the children that they serve, but also bringing this to whole families. Head Start programs in Oshkosh have partnered with re:TH!NK and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to provide a community health experience for college students to teach nutrition lessons to their classes as a way to teach and inspire through hands-on experience for both college students and preschool students!
Head Start brings insight into the team to ensure that any Farm to Early Care strategy meets established standards, includes multi-culturally appropriate material, and is mindful of family needs. Val, Director of Health Services of Head Start, has participated in community meetings regarding healthy foods and beverages in Winnebago County and continuously provides an invaluable perspective from the community about the community. We thank Head Start for joining our efforts to bring Farm to Early Care into vulnerable populations and for being a strong partner in building a healthier nutrition environment in our community!
re:TH!NK’s Healthy Food and Beverages team partnered with University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Politics of Food Quest class to teach nutrition lessons within area childcare programs. Groups of college students developed nutrition lesson plans about locally grown produce and introduced them to young students at UWO Childcare Center and Head Start programs in Oshkosh.
Partnering with UWO and Childcare providers is a win-win: UWO students gain an appreciation of local food and early intervention in the early care setting, and children within childcare settings receive this nutrition education. One UWO student shared, “It is really cool to see how just by sitting down to talk about a new food, using our senses to describe it, and having fun interactions with it, gets the kids really excited about trying it! What a fun experience!”
The re:TH!NK Healthy Food and Beverages team offers support to any organization interested in getting involved in increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in children 0-5 years.
Garden bars are a new way the Oshkosh Area School District is enhancing their Farm to School program, making it easier to offer more Wisconsin-grown fresh produce to the students. Research has shown that garden bars in school lunches increase the children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables. When offered a wider variety of fresh, healthy food options on the garden bars, the students are more willing to try new items, and to eat more of their favorites. This helps them to develop habits that support healthy eating over their lifetime.
Garden Bars at OASD focus on offering fresh vegetables and fruits, initially to include one fresh fruit, one frozen or canned fruit, leafy salad greens, and up to three additional vegetables. The Garden Bars are positioned as the first serving area encountered in the lunch line, since fruits and vegetables are required meal components and the colorful display of produce will entice children to choose these components. A cyclic menu coincides with the school lunch menu and work with the existing Farm to School Program to integrate fresh, locally grown products. Local partners like re:TH!NK helped to introduce the bars with volunteers at each new Garden Bar site to help children make good choices, and to hand out buttons, stickers, or other promotional materials.