Food Education and Curriculum Resources
Harvest of the Month
Each month, a locally-grown fruit or vegetable is featured on the school lunch menu and educational materials are provided for students, teachers, and parents. Harvest of the Month provides a great opportunity to encourage healthy choices and talk about where our food comes from. It also allows food service staff to experiment with preparing and serving local produce. This can involve finding a local farm to procure the product, trying new recipes, and doing taste tests in the cafeteria.
Some schools highlight their Harvest of the Month item on a single day of the month, and others feature it multiple times. Harvest of the Month connects the cafeteria, classroom, school garden, and community in learning about and sharing food that grows in our region.
The Whatcom Harvest of the Month program is available (and can easily be adopted) by any district in the Northwest. WSDA’s Farm to School Toolkit also provides a range of Harvest of the Month materials and resources to help schools in Washington State promote their efforts to students and families. WSDA’s Harvest Posters highlight seasonal Washington fruits and vegetables and are available for download, and their WA Grown Food Kit offers information, recipes, sample menus, and nutrition facts.
Recommended Harvest of the Month materials from other states include:
USDA supports school gardens as a proven tactic for improving children’s attitudes and consumption of produce, and for incorporating experiential nutrition and agriculture education into school curricula. Research that demonstrates positive impacts associated with school gardens has been compiled by the Collective School Garden Network, Kids Gardening, and the USDA.
Getting Started: A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms by Center for Ecoliteracy is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to starting a school garden, from selecting and preparing a site, to raising funds, to involving stakeholders.
- Ag in the Classroom Curriculum Matrix – National Organization for Agriculture in the Classroom offers an extensive list of agriculture-related lesson plans and other resources organized by grade level.
- Dig In! from USDA’s Team Nutrition: Ten inquiry-based lessons that engage 5th and 6th graders in growing, harvesting, tasting, and learning about fruits and vegetables.
- Eat Together Eat Better from WSU: Educational materials focusing on family meals. Resources support nutrition, parent, and youth educators in teaching the importance of family meals in setting healthy roots for a lifetime.
- Farm to School Knowledge Base for Educators from FoodHub: A list of farm to school educational resources organized by grade level.
- Farm to School Lesson Plans from Growing Minds: Farm to school activities that incorporate national curriculum standards for different grade levels.
- Farm to School Youth Leadership Curriculum from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: Designed to empower 11th and 12th grade youth, teach them about their local food system, engage them in meaningful, hands-on learning activities that also strengthen their school’s farm to school program, and link them directly with farmers in their community.
- Food is Elementary from the Food Studies Institute: 28 age-appropriate lesson plans for pre-K through 2nd grade and 3rd grade through 8th grade. The participatory one-hour lessons integrate art, geography, history, language arts, writing, mathematics, and science and encourage students to engage all their senses while they study whole foods, nutrition and cooking.
- The Great Garden Detective Adventure from USDA’s Team Nutrition: An 11-lesson curriculum for 3rd and 4th grades includes bulletin board materials, veggie dice, fruit and vegetable flash cards, and ten issues of Garden Detective News for parents/caregivers.
- The Growing Classroom from UC Santa-Cruz: A garden based Science and Nutrition curriculum for 2nd through 6th grades published by the National Gardening Association.
- Junior Chef Club curriculum from OSPI/WSU: A hands-on approach for teaching 4th and 5th grade students about nutrition, food safety, basic food preparation, and the benefits of physical activity.
- Resources and Tools Database from the Edible Schoolyard Project: Educational resources for the garden classroom, kitchen classroom, academic classroom, and cafeteria, organized by type, grade level, and season.
- Sustainable Agriculture Resources and Programs for K-12 Youth from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education: A guide to sustainable agriculture-oriented educational programs and curricula that includes direct links as well as program contact information.
- Teaching the Food System from the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future offers a fabulous curriculum for 9th-12th graders comprised of 11 classroom-ready modules that help educators deliver compelling lessons with minimal preparation.
Farm Field Trips
How to Make a Local Farm a Classroom for a Day, a Fact Sheet by WSU King County Extension, offers tips and guidelines for organizing school field trips for students to learn about farming.
Making the Farm Connection: A Guide to Field Trips for Farmers by Community Alliance with Family Farmers: A guide to planning and conducting farm visits for school groups, for farmers.
The Hayride by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project: A resource for educational farm field trips; includes guided questions for planning.
The Real Food Show is a 40-minute show produced and sponsored by the Community Food Co-op in Whatcom County, available to schools throughout the region. The show is designed to motivate and teach students to make healthy food and lifestyle choices. With comedy and circus arts, the show aims to increase nutrition and health knowledge while inspiring a positive change in attitudes, habits, and behaviors. Shows are available for school assemblies and events at reasonable and negotiable rates.
Washington State University Extension provides hands-on nutrition education in the region’s elementary schools with SNAP-Ed funding. Schools with 50% or more of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch are eligible. WSU educators provide short classroom lessons focusing on selecting and preparing healthy foods and increasing physical activity.
Northwest Indian College Traditional Plants and Foods Program is a wonderful resource for learning about the traditional Northwest Coastal Indian diet. The Northwest Native Foods curriculum includes native foods principles, information on how to harvest and cook many foods, and the nutritional importance of a native foods diet.