October is National Farm to School Month -- a month dedicated to establishing and promoting relationships between local farms and schools. Right here in western Wisconsin, we have family farms and schools that are involved in providing fresh, local produce to our children and teaching them about health and nutrition.
When we serve local produce and teach our kids the benefits of a healthy diet, we create lifelong partnerships in communities. Farm to School programs also help us address childhood obesity by providing healthy, nutritious foods at school and tackle a struggling farming industry by providing a market for farmers to sell their products.
Right here at home, farm to school programs are fostering partnerships between schools, communities, and producers. Viroqua Schools hosted their 2nd Annual Harvest Competition to promote local farmers and raise money for the Vernon Area Farm to School Initiative. Student teams from Viroqua, Laurel, La Farge, Hillsboro, De Soto, Westby, and Youth Initiatives High Schools competed in a cooking competition to create school meals using healthy, local foods. AmeriCorps volunteers in Crawford County are working to strengthen the Farm to School program. The La Crosse County Farm to School program promotes a different local food every month and provides cooking classes with local ingredients.
As founder of the Congressional Organic Caucus and member of the Congressional Fitness Caucus, I am at the forefront of agricultural and nutritional debates. Strong partnerships between our schools and local food producers ensure sustainable markets for local farmers, healthy foods in our schools, and hands-on educational opportunities for our kids. I am proud to have such great models in western Wisconsin.