Summer Feeding Sites
Local food boosts summer meal participation, and local food celebrations can add an educational component to summer feeding. Schools providing summer meals can test out new recipes and veggies within a smaller audience or in a select location. Summer is also the best time to buy seasonally!
Look for Local All Summer Long!
No matter if you’re making summer meals onsite or buying summer meals from a vendor, incorporating Farm to School into your summer feeding menus can be a snap! Buying locally, or utilizing garden produce for summer feeding will add education and excitement to mealtime every day.
Did you know that local food boosts summer meal participation? Adding local food celebrations to meals will add an educational component to summer feeding allowing you to provide a Wellness activity and provide nutrition education.
- Are you a K-12 school? Schools providing summer meals can test out new recipes and veggies with a smaller audience or in a select location. Experimenting with new veggies, or popular veggies in new recipes. Summer is the best time to buy seasonally!
- Buying local produce, dairy and grains during the summer provides the perfect opportunity to choose and develop relationships with potential new, local vendors. We all know the difference between a home-grown tomato and a store-bought tomato. The taste difference during the height of the season can be eye-opening for young eaters!
- Orchestrate an ingredient processing day in mid-August. Creating a “fifth season” by processing veggies at the peak of the harvest can be an affordable option for local ingredients in your entrees during our long, Midwest winters! Shred zucchini and squeeze dry to freeze in ziplock bags to use in muffins and soups in the winter. Or, roast local pumpkins and squash, puree and freeze in ziplocks, too! Create and freeze a Ratatouille blend to use on pizzas, in soups and in pasta dishes in winter.
We have broken down sourcing locally for summer feeding into two categories: Buying and Preparing Summer Meals and Buying Summer Meals from a Vendor to help you source and serve local foods.
Buying and Preparing Summer Meals
When buying and preparing summer meals look for local at:
- a local farmer’s market
- in school or community gardens
- area farms and urban farms
- your broadline & area produce distributors, food hubs & local food aggregators
- your local grocery outlets
- purchase a CSA share in February from a local farm, prior to the summer months to keep local veggies coming all summer long. You can find Illinois Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms here.
Buying Summer Meals from a Vendor
When buying summer meals from a vendor share information about Farm to School:
- Share information about Farm to School by sharing our website.
- Ask your food provider to source locally through the summer for your feeding program. Share procurement tips from our website toolkit.
- Share search engines to locate local food:
Can’t get local on the plate? Build beneficial partnerships!
- Ask your grocery or produce market to supply local summer veggies for taste tests.
- Use local veggies from a community or school garden for taste tests.
Share fun Farm to School activities during lunch!
- Make inexpensive Living Necklaces
- Educate kids with a “Plant the Seed!” day using herbs, lettuce, radish, hot peppers or other window friendly seeds planted in an inexpensive take home paper cup or in recycled water bottles. Plant the seed for acceptance of healthy, fresh foods!
- Register for Harvest of the Month for Summer and utilize activities, celebrations and education activities all summer long!