Three Minnesota School districts have been named a 2023 Minnesota Grown Farm to School District of the Year by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Minnesota Grown Program. This first-ever statewide contest recognizes schools for their exceptional efforts to serve and promote foods grown in the state to their students.
The three districts receiving this year’s honors include:
- District of the Year: Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools
- Rising Star: Glacial Hills Elementary (Starbuck, Minnesota)
- People’s Choice: Hutchinson Public Schools
“We thank these school districts and their employees for their hard work, creativity, and leadership in serving and celebrating locally grown foods in schools,” said MDA Commissioner Thom Petersen. “Our students, farmers, and communities all benefit when we see Minnesota Grown on the school menu.”
The Minnesota Grown Farm to School District of the Year Contest celebrates school districts for their work to increase access to Minnesota Grown foods, teach about and celebrate local agriculture, and support Minnesota producers. Judging was based on several factors, including the variety of local foods offered in school meals, the number of producers the districts buy from, and activities they do to promote and teach about local foods. Judges also looked at how the districts celebrated Minnesota Grown foods and producers during National Farm to School Month in October.
The District of the Year award recognizes one district that is doing outstanding work to serve Minnesota Grown food and promote Minnesota agriculture and producers, while the Rising Star category recognizes a district that recently started its Farm to School program and has made significant progress in a short time. People’s Choice was determined through social media voting via the Minnesota Grown Facebook page.
“Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools maintains a year-round commitment to local food purchasing and menu development,” said Krissy McIntyre, the district’s assistant director of child nutrition services. “This commitment extends far beyond Farm to School Month, showcasing our dedication to supporting Minnesota agriculture and providing students with nutritious, locally sourced meals. Currently, we incorporate local food items from 12 Minnesota farms and producers, five of which are new to us this school year. Our goal as a department is to continue to nurture our current relationships as well as forge new partnerships.”
MDA staff will visit Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools and the two other winning districts to present the awards in-person this winter. Each winner will receive a commemorative plaque, exclusive rights to a “Minnesota Grown Farm to School District of the Year 2023” logo, and public recognition for their Farm to School commitment and leadership. The District of the Year winner will also receive an on-site culinary training for a group of food service staff.
This inaugural Minnesota Grown Farm to School District of the Year Contest was supported by a USDA Farm to School Grant received by the MDA and the Minnesota Farm to School Leadership Team. The contest will continue to be offered annually. Further information about how to participate can be found on the contest webpage.
The Minnesota Grown Program is a statewide partnership between the MDA and Minnesota producers of specialty crops and livestock. It was created over 35 years ago by specialty crop growers to differentiate their produce from produce grown elsewhere.
Logan Schumacher, MDA Communications